14 Jun 2009, 3:50pm
by admin

Wolf lawsuits grow

By JEFF GEARINO, Casper Star Tribune, April 9,2009 [here]

GREEN RIVER — The wolf lawsuits keep piling up.

A loose coalition of agriculture, conservation, sportsman, outfitter and other interests are the latest groups to announce their intent to file a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s final rule for removing wolves from the endangered species list.

The “Wolf Coalition” joins a slew of organizations — including the state of Wyoming, the Defenders of Wildlife and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition — that have filed 60-day notices of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The groups are legally challenging the agency’s decision last week to leave the gray wolf in Wyoming on the endangered species list, but to delist wolves in neighboring Montana and Idaho.

Coalition attorney Harriet Hageman of Cheyenne said Thursday the group’s notice of intent alleges the USFWS violated the terms of the federal Endangered Species Act when it decided to proceed with wolf delisting.

The violations include the agency’s failure to follow and implement the federal wolf recovery plan that formed the basis for the original reintroduction of the non-native gray wolf into the greater Yellowstone area.

Hageman said the coalition is also challenging the agency’s decision to reject Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which classifies wolves as a trophy game animal in the greater Yellowstone area and as a predator in the rest of the state.

She said gray wolf populations in the region have not only met, but exceeded the recovery criteria set in the recovery plan and other federal guideline documents.

“The deal from the beginning was that the gray wolf would be introduced into and managed in the Yellowstone area,” Hageman said in a media release.

“The USFWS is now trying to force Wyoming to adopt a management plan that ensures that the wolves move throughout the state,” she said. “That is directly contrary to everything that the (agency) told us when they brought the wolves into Yellowstone.”

The USFWS has previously defined a viable recovered wolf population as including 15 breeding pairs and at least 150 wolves per state.

However, the federal rules published last week would specify that Wyoming should maintain at least seven breeding pairs and 70 wolves outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Hageman said that in 2007 federal biologists estimated there were a minimum of 1,531 wolves within the Northern Rockies, including 127 breeding pairs.

She said by the end of 2007, there were also at least 171 wolves in 11 packs living inside Yellowstone National Park and 188 wolves in 25 packs living outside the park in Wyoming.

“Despite having exceeded their own goals by more than double, the USFWS refuses to allow Wyoming to manage the exploding gray wolf population,” Hageman said.

The coalition includes the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife Wyoming, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, and the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association among others.

Note: the Notice of Intent to Sue is [here, 1.85 KB]



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