CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Not much given to making brash political statements, Gov. Matt Mead is passing up an opportunity to get some attention by shooting a wolf.
"Just in terms of time, I wouldn't be able to go do it," Mead said Tuesday.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed wolves from endangered species protection in Wyoming in August. The state's first public hunt since wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s began Monday.
Just like they've become in the Yellowstone region, wolves are well-established in the region's politics. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said repeatedly that he wanted one of the available licenses to shoot a wolf in his state. He isn't known to have actually gone wolf hunting, however.
Mead said he once asked the Wyoming Game and Fish Department if he could buy the first Wyoming wolf license with an eye for eventually giving it to a charity to sell at a fund-raiser.
There is ample precedent for that. The Wyoming governor's office has a long tradition, provided for under state law, of giving away big-game licenses to wildlife charities.
Each year, the Game and Fish Department allocates five moose, five bighorn sheep and 10 elk, deer or pronghorn licenses to the governor's office. Charities that benefit from auctioning off the governor's licenses include the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Wild Sheep Foundation.
Mead said Game and Fish told him Wyoming's wolf licenses aren't numbered. In other words, no "Wolf License No. 1" exists for somebody to buy and hang behind his basement bar as a conversation piece.