A week after wolves returned to Yellowstone National Park, a Wyoming House committee decided Thursday to put a $500 bounty on wolves that wander outside the park.
The bill also would require Wyoming to foot the lawyer bill for anyone charged with violating the Endangered Species Act for killing a wolf.
Rep. Roger Huckfeldt, R-Torrington, the sponsor of HB13, said the bill probably violates federal law and encourages wolfkilling, but the House Agriculture Committee passed it anyway, 8-1.
The committee also passed a resolution asking Congress to allow the hunting of wolves outside Yellowstone National Park.
Bill Gentle, director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, told the committee he appreciated the sentiment behind the wolf bounty and believes it sends a message about how Wyoming feels about wolves in Yellowstone.
“But I do think it’s important for anybody that if they shoot a wolf and are dumb enough to bring it to us and collect a bounty, they’re going to lose,” he said. “They’re going to be prosecuted and probably going to lose.”
Larry Bourret of the Wyoming Farm Bureau called the bill important because wolf reintroduction laws only allow wolves to be killed outside the park if the animals are caught “in mid-bite” attacking livestock.
Hunter Bill Yanacone of Cheyenne said maybe Wyoming should forget the bill and handle the situation as some Minnesotans recently did when three radio-collared wolves were killed in that state.
“In Minnesota, they have the three ‘S’s - shoot, shovel and shut up - and maybe that’s what we’ll do,” he said.
Rep. Carolyn Paseneaux, R-Casper, called the Endangered Species Act “a case of a law run amok.”
“We as legislators in Wyoming need to say our state is important, our citizens are important, our customs and culture is important,” she testified.”