Two Wyoming members of a federal committee charged with developing a plan to reintroduce wolves to the Yellowstone area say they haven't been given enough time to do a thorough job.
Congress has given the 10-member committee a May 15 deadline to present the plan. Six members must be in agreement with a plan before submitting it to Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan."It appears too fast for me," said Pete Petera, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Rock Springs sheep rancher James Magagna, who opposes wolf reintroduction, agreed.
"I think it's extremely short," he said. "It doesn't leave any time for anyone to do any research."
Furthermore, he said, the deadline doesn't provide enough time to allow adequate public input.
The committee was established when opposition was raised over a proposal to reintroduce a test population of wolves to Yellowstone National Park and the Central Idaho Wilderness Area.
While wildlife activists support such an effort, ranchers in the area fear the predators will attack their livestock.
Magagna, who is vice president of the American Sheep Industry Association, said his duty as a committee member will be to protect ranchers' interests.
"I'll focus specifically on threats to livestock in the area and the safeguards needed," he said.