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By Melodie Edwards
Credit Photo Doug Smith
A national tribal conservation group is proposing that Wyoming create a 31-mile “sacred resources protection zone” around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks where wolves can’t be hunted.
The group, Protect the Wolves, has reached out to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho in Wyoming for support. Both tribes told Wyoming Public Radio that they are still evaluating the proposal.
Northern Arapaho member Sergio Maldonado is facilitating the discussion. He said the wolf is an important species to his tribe and that the federal government is mandated to consult tribes about such species.
“I’m hopeful that the Game and Fish at a national and Wyoming level are going to be mindful that as a sovereign tribe we too have a right to discuss any type of management plan that is going to be put forth to the benefit or the detriment of the wolf.”
Protect the Wolves President Patricia Herman said some hunters use lures to entice them out of the park and her group would like to see such lures banned as well.
“[Wolves] don’t understand man’s lines,” Herman said. “All they know is that they’re in search of food. And because now they’re now being lured out of the park, it’s made it even worse.”
Executive Director Erik Molvar of the conservation group Western Watersheds said they support the idea of the sacred resources protection zone.
“If you’re going to have these wolves which together with grizzly bears are probably one of the two most impressive species and the most sought after species for people that go to Yellowstone with their tens of millions of dollars spent per year in the Wyoming economy, then you’re going to shoot them as soon as they walk out of the park, then those animals are no longer going to hang out where they can see humans anymore,” said Molvar.
Protect the Wolves’ spokesman Roger Dobson said the group has also proposed the wolf protection zone in Idaho and Montana but none of the three state wildlife agencies have set up meetings to discuss the idea.
But Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Renny McKay said they welcome input from groups like this one or from anyone during its public comment period on wolf management that ends June 19.