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EDITORIAL: Next leaders must seek reasonable wolf plan

In a region where wolves never were welcome, management of the species continues to hit a nerve among many residents.

Fifteen years after wolves were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park, locals continue to wear their hearts on their sleeves — or, as the case may be, their vehicles' bumpers. Trucks branded with anti-wolf slogans are common sights, with mantras like “Smoke a pack a day” or “Welcome to Wyoming; Take a wolf and leave.”

Residents and political leaders voiced ongoing frustration Saturday during a Wolf Impact Rally in Cody, again calling for wolves to be taken off the endangered species list.

Delisting wolves in Wyoming would allow the animals to be hunted as they are in Idaho and Montana. Wolves remain protected in Wyoming after the federal government rejected the state's Wolf Management Plan, mainly because the plan calls for wolves to be shot on sight in much of the Cowboy State.

Though the predator status has been contested since the plan was drafted in 2007, many Wyoming leaders remain unwilling to budge.

GOP gubernatorial candidates reiterated their support for the plan during the wolf rally.

House Speaker Colin Simpson, R-Cody, wrote on his campaign website that he “firmly believe(s) that the ‘predator' status outside of the designated ‘trophy game' area is appropriate and reasonable.”

In a letter, State Auditor Rita Meyer called the plan “a well-thought out, balanced approach that meets the needs of Wyoming residents.”

What Wyoming needs is a governor who will revisit the current Wolf Management Plan and consider a compromise on the proposed predator status.

For the past three years, state leaders have pushed Wyoming's Wolf Management Plan, only to become embattled in ongoing legal disputes.

Wyoming's plan needs to be revised, especially its proposed predator zone.

Without revisions to the current plan, we fear that wolves will remain on the endangered species list for years to come. With certain revisions, it's possible controlled wolf hunts could begin in Wyoming, as they have in Idaho and Montana.

Those most concerned about wolves' effects on livestock and dwindling elk populations should agree that controlled wolf hunting is better than none at all.

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