Can Wyoming Come Together?


By Jim Magagna, Executive Vice President, Wyoming Stock Growers Association

On October 5 the Fish and Wildlife Service released their promised proposed rule delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming.  The rule, base on initial analysis, appears to conform to the terms of the agreement reached in early August between Governor Matt Mead and the Service.  This release initiates a 100-day public comment period together with a single public meeting to be held in Riverton on November 15th.

For the next 100 days the fate of this plan lies in the hands of the public.  In Wyoming this public includes citizens who support the plan and citizens who advocate for state-wide trophy game status.  It includes those who have argued that wolves should be protected only within Yellowstone National Park and those who believe that all of Teton County should be within the Trophy Game Management Area (TGMA).  It includes those who point to the economic benefits that the presence of the wolf can bring to northwestern Wyoming as well as those who cite the economic destruction caused to livestock and wildlife.  Yes, the Wyoming public even encompasses those who will not rest until all wolves are removed from the state and those who envision thousands of wolves in Wyoming as representing a restoration of ecologic balance.

There is another public out there that does not live or work in our state.  A few have traveled to Wyoming and experienced, positively or negatively, the presence of wolves.  The vast majority have, at most, seen a video, a newspaper photo or a TV news story.  Many thousands have only been subjected to the propaganda of wolf advocacy groups or the rhetoric of vocal wolf opponents.  This public, led by a few organizations with national agendas, will also seek to drive the fate of this delisting plan.

Will the citizens of Wyoming prevail in determining the future direction of wolf management in our state?  Will Wyoming wildlife managers be given their rightful authority to manage this species?   The answer to these questions can be determined by Wyoming’s response over the next 100 days.  The intense negotiating efforts of Governor Mead have given Wyoming one more chance to prevail.

In Wyoming we speak freely and often about “states’ rights.”  Today, the issue of wolf management is an issue of states’ rights.  A state’s claim to its rights is strengthened by its determination and by its unity.  Can all Wyoming citizens come together behind their leaders in support of a wolf management plan that does not totally satisfy anyone?  Can we recognize that far too many public and private resources over far too many years have been committed to this issue—at times in a manner that is more about political posturing than about the fate of the wolf?  Can Wyoming people speak loudly and with a unanimous voice in support of our right to manage all of our wildlife?  Can we pledge that we will not be a part of one more lawsuit challenging wolf delisting in our state?

Since territorial days Wyoming people have demonstrated their powerful ability to come together to defend and support their interests.  Today our economy and our culture are more diverse than at any previous time.  Consequently, the challenge of achieving unity is greater.  Nevertheless, the reasons that citizens from one corner of this beautiful state to the other give for choosing to live in Wyoming continue to be those common themes of open space, abundant wildlife, a small friendly population and, increasingly, a government that functions efficiently and within its means.

Today is the time for each of us to call up those values that unite us and stand firmly behind Governor Mead in support of wolf management in Wyoming on Wyoming’s terms.  Only with this unity can we prevail.




About the Wyoming Stock Growers Association

Since 1872, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association has served the livestock business and families of Wyoming by protecting their economic, legislative, regulatory, judicial, environmental, custom and cultural interests. WSGA advocates on issues affecting the cattle industry, Wyoming agriculture and rural community living. We communicate with our members about cattle industry current events and the Association’s activities. We promote the role of the cattle industry in resource stewardship, animal care and the production of high-quality, safe and nutritious beef. Learn more at or call 307-638-3942.


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