Feds deny Wyoming petition to delist wolves
Photo courtesy National Park Service.
July 26, 2006
Delaying until past the year deadline to announce their decision, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finally told Wyoming they were denying the state’s petition to remove the gray wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the federal list of threatened and endangered species.
On Monday, the state announced they had sent a “60 Day Notice of Intent to Sue for Violations of the Endangered Species Act-Gray Wolf" letter to the FWS and Secretary of the Interior because the feds had not responded to the state’s wolf petition within the required one-year time frame. Wyoming received notice of the final decision from the FWS later on Monday.
The decision means Wyoming will take the issue back to the courts to try and work out an agreement on how wolves will be managed in the state. The decision means there will be further delays in delisting of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountain states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, even though wolf pack populations are well past the numbers targeted for desired populations.
The disagreement isn’t about whether or not the population numbers are finally sufficiently high to sustain the species, but rather in how Wyoming wants to manage wolves outside of the primary recovery areas where there are serious conflicts with ranching and private land uses.
The Fish and Wildlife service rejected Wyoming’s first wolf management plan, so the state sued. The courts ruled the state’s lawsuit was not valid because the rejection was not a “final action”. Monday’s decision notice represents the official final action, marking the point where the legal wrangling can begin anew to find a workable compromise to balance wildlife recovery goals with ranching needs and the economics of predation losses by wolves.
The Fish & Wildlife Service has already approved management plans by Montana and Idaho. Plans must be accepted from all three states before wolves can be downgraded from the endangered status in the northern Rockies. Wolf populations have already exceeded target numbers in the three states.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal offered the following statement Monday upon the FWS's decision to deny Wyoming's petition to remove the gray wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the federal list of threatened and endangered species: "The action by the Fish and Wildlife Service actually makes it easier for us to proceed to use a judicial forum to contest their decision to deny the petition. It is our hope that we can move expeditiously to proceed to get a judicial review of the scientific adequacy of the state's regulatory mechanism as passed by the Legislature."