TWS President Lanka urges Wyoming to address wolf laws

Wolves lack protections in most of the state

TWS President Bob Lanka testified in front of a Wyoming legislative committee asking lawmakers to address statutes that allow residents to kill or harass wolves from snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles in most of the state.

“The Wildlife Society suggests the legislature consider a very narrow, craft revision to statutory language so that it expressly forbids purposely running down and running over predatory animals with automotive vehicles, motorized wheeled or over-snow vehicles,” Lanka testified, according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “The word ‘purposely’ is important here, as it is not our intent to make a highway accident a criminal offense.”

Lanka, a retired biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, was responding to an incident in which an individual allegedly ran over a gray wolf (Canis lupus) with a snowmobile near Daniel, Wyoming, in February, and displayed and photographed the animal before killing it.

The incident gained attention around the world and focused criticism on Wyoming laws that lack protections for wolves in 85% of the state where they are statutorily defined as a predatory animal.

Lanka was one of two former state employees who outlined policy changes that could prevent such incidents as the state legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee Tuesday considered the matter at a meeting in Cody last week.

In April, Lanka and 23 past TWS presidents penned a letter to Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon condemning the killing and asking the state to take action.

“We urge you to work with the legislature to fix the statutory gap identified in this incident that has tarnished the reputation of Wyoming worldwide,” they wrote.

Header Image: A wolf moves through fresh snow. Credit: Jacob W. Frank