State to sue over Wolf Plan rejection
by Governor Freudenthalís office
August 9, 2006
Gov. Dave Freudenthal and other Wyoming officials have notified the federal government that they intend to sue over the rejection of the state's wolf management plan.
Last month, the state announced its intentions to take federal agencies to court to compel action on two petitions. One, filed in early July 2005, asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to amend the existing gray wolf management regulations to mitigate the negative impacts on livestock and wildlife being caused by the rapidly growing recovered gray wolf population in Wyoming.
As of today, the service has taken no formal action on the state's petition to amend the management regulations.
Later that month, the state also filed a petition asking the secretary of the interior to establish a Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment for the gray wolf, and to delist that population segment. Citing an unpublished report that did not undergo peer review, the Interior Department recently rejected that petition.
Wyoming's lawsuit will encapsulate two causes of action: one, the lack of response to the regulation petition and, two, the rejection of the state's delisting petition.
"Unfortunately, the federal government has given us no other option but to file the litigation," Freudenthal said. "We remain hopeful that there's some other way to solve this, but to date, the federal government has indicated no willingness to accept anything other than their top-down solution. We will go to court and defend the plan adopted by Wyoming and the Wyoming Legislature."
Under Wyoming's plan, wolves are absolutely protected in the national parks. Upon delisting, wolves would never be lawfully taken in this area, which encompasses nearly 4,000 square miles of Wyoming. Wolves would be classified as "trophy game animals", meaning their taking would be actively managed to maintain viable population numbers in the wilderness areas contiguous to the parks (Absaroka-Beartooth, North Absaroka, Washakie, Teton, Jedediah Smith and Gros Ventre). Those wilderness areas are another 3,200 square miles.