Simpson backs state effort on wolf plan
Candidate for governor spotlights work done to help state economy.
By Thomas Dewell, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: June 30, 2010
Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Colin Simpson supports the state wolf plan that offers some protections for the animals in and around national parks but classifies them as predators elsewhere.
The state Legislature and outgoing Gov. Dave Freudenthal have supported what is called “dual classification,” but the federal government rejected the plan because of fears it could decimate wolf populations. Wyoming sued and is waiting for a ruling.
Montana and Idaho have had their wolf management plans approved, and hunters shot animals in those states last year. In Wyoming, wolves have not been hunted regularly, to the consternation of some hunters, outfitters and others.
While the process may have left some frustrated, Simpson said it is the best course of action for the state.
“We know that that might take some time,” said Simpson, who noted that the case was argued before a federal judge in Casper in January. “It is the proper action to wait until the judge rules and see what he says.”
Under the disputed Wyoming plan, wolves would not be hunted in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and would be considered trophy game in the northwest reaches of the state, where hunters would need a license to kill them. Outside the trophy zone, the animals would be considered predators and could be killed without a license.
Simpson, who was in Jackson last week to speak to a dental association, said the state should go further and petition the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow wolf management decisions based on how many elk and moose the predators are killing in an area. If managers deem the wolves are killing too much game, managers should be able to reduce wolf populations, Simpson said.
That is currently not allowed under Endangered Species Act regulations that have guided recovery of the wolf population.
“I don’t believe the Endangered Species Act was created to let one species get an upper hand on the other,” Simpson said.
On Friday, Simpson, of Cody, visited Jackson and reacted to fellow party member and candidate Matt Mead asserting that he was leading the race.
The day before, Mead, a Teton County native who lives in Cheyenne, said input from state residents, responses to his Web site and an increase in volunteers helping his campaign led him to believe he was leading the GOP contest that will be decided in the Aug. 17 primary.
Simpson said the tight race and positive responses are not just being enjoyed by the Mead campaign.
“It’s great that we all believe that we’re the frontrunner,” Simpson said, with a lacing of humor.
Along with Mead, Simpson is running against Ron Micheli, of Fort Bridger; Rita Meyer, of Cheyenne; Alan Kousoulos, of Cody; John Self, of Sheridan; and Tom Ubben, of Laramie.
The No. 1 issue Simpson hears from Wyoming residents as he traverses the state is the economy.
State government can help businesses by keeping taxes low and not hamstringing industry with too much regulation, the candidate said. Wyoming legislators have also created economic incentives in the tax code and other areas to help businesses.
On Tuesday, the Simpson campaign announced that a national group dedicated to the growth of small business and economic development had declared Simpson a 2010 “Champion of Small Business.”
Each year, the National Coalition for Capital awards that designation to recognize officials who have exhibited leadership in providing access to capital for entrepreneurs and growing businesses, a campaign release stated.
During the 2010 legislative budget session, Simpson, as House speaker, co-sponsored and helped enact into law a small-business investment credit program to help new businesses obtain capital to grow and create jobs. A University of Wyoming analysis estimated the program will create 2,200 jobs at $38,000 a year in annual pay, the release from the campaign states.
“Creating jobs and diversifying our economy has to start with helping new businesses get the access to capital they need to start up and grow,” Simpson said.