Waiting for word on wolf injunction
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
June 15, 2008
As wolf advocates await a federal judge’s decision whether or not to issue an injunction against state management of wolves in the Northern Rockies, federal officials argued that the injunction is unnecessary.
The federal government argued that the environmental and animal-rights advocates had an “incorrect notion that the states’ laws permit unregulated wolf killing that will radically diminish” prospects for a functional wolf metapopulation.
Wyoming’s dual classification for wolves was much concern for the wolf advocates. The federal government brief opposing the injunction request stated: “Plaintiffs make much of the fact that ‘almost 90 percent’ of Wyoming falls within the predatory animal area. This figure sounds impressive until one understands that the vast majority of this land is not suitable wolf habitat, and it is unlikely that wolves would ever become established in these areas. Indeed, the area outside the trophy game area has not supported persistent wolf packs since 1995. The trophy game area in northwestern Wyoming encompasses 70 percent of the suitable wolf habitat in Wyoming, and 91 percent of this area is secure public land. In 2006 this area supported at least 25 packs, 15 breeding pairs, and 175 wolves. Thus, USFWS reasonably concluded that the Wyoming trophy game area would be large enough to support 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves even if YNP had none.”
The brief also noted that “most predator control actions permitted under state depredation control laws likely would have been authorized under the previous federal management.”
The brief stated: “Prior to delisting, 70 percent of mortality for the NRM population was due to anthropogenic causes, and the leading cause has long been legal killing due to conflict with livestock, yet the population has continued to expand at a rate of 24 percent annually. Given these facts, human-caused mortality could increase post-delisting to remove an additional 24 percent of the population without decreasing the total NRM population at all. Merely holding a wolf population stationary requires total annual take of 28-50 percent per year. Indeed, despite aggressive management Canadian wolf populations remain healthy. Agencies seeking to reduce wolf populations try to kill 70 percent per year.”
The federal judge is expected to issue his decision on the injunction request at any time. Until then, wolves remain under state management.
To read more about the reasons federal officials oppose the injunction request, read the court documents posted below.