Park County makes wolf arguments
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
July 5, 2007
Attorneys for the Park County Commission filed the county’s opening brief in the pending federal lawsuit over the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rejection of the Wyoming wolf management plan and petition to delist.
“While FWS is critical of the Wyoming plan regarding predator classification and unlicensed take outside the core habitat around Yellowstone Park, that criticism is unreasonable and arbitrary under the circumstances,” according to Park County.
“The classification of wolves as predators outside core habitat areas would result in no different results for wolves on the ground under the Wyoming plan as exist today under the federal management regime,” the brief states.
“With their efficient use of aircraft over intermixed public and private lands, the FWS is at least as efficient and no doubt more efficient at removal of wolves under the current federal regulatory mechanism as random predator hunters would be under the Wyoming plan. Yet FWS will not approve the Wyoming plan and begin the process of turning management over to the state.”
The Park County brief stated: “Hysteria exists over the term ‘predator’ under the dual status mechanism. Distaste for the term is not based in biology but rather in politics and emotion.”
The brief argued that the rejection of the wolf plan by FWS “sets forth an irrational fear of wolf extirpation under predator status based on historic practices. The fear that historic practices leading to wolf extirpation, often government-sponsored, would continue upon delisting is unsupported in the record.”
The brief continues: “FWS concerns regarding predator status are irrelevant and speculative and the kind of political and emotional considerations that are improper under the Endangered Species Act’s ‘best science’ mandate required in delisting decisions.”
The brief concludes: “Because the FWS decision rejecting the Wyoming petition and the Wyoming plan is unreasonable this court need not defer to the agency’s conclusions. For this reason and those reasons otherwise set forth in the State of Wyoming’s brief, this Court should find the FWS decision arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, unsupported by substantial evidence and otherwise not in accordance with law.
“Park County agrees with the State of Wyoming that the remedy in this case is for the court to find that the Wyoming plan is an adequate regulatory mechanism, order the Federal Respondents to immediately approve the Wyoming plan and [Wyoming statute] and to include Wyoming in the pending proposal to delist the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment. Further, the court should find that the Federal Respondents have unreasonably withheld action on the State of Wyoming’s petition to amend the gray wolf management regulations.”