Quantcast

Conservation Groups Challenge Kill-at-Will Policy for Wyoming Wolves

Earthjustice

Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, served notice that they will file a court challenge to the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for Wyoming wolves.

Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, served notice that they will file a court challenge to the federal government’s removal of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for Wyoming wolves. Earthjustice is representing Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club in this action.

Yesterday’s announcement by the conservation groups comes on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to turn wolf management in Wyoming over to state officials, despite the fact that Wyoming’s wolf management policies open the door to unlimited wolf killing throughout most of the state and provide inadequate protection for wolves even where killing is regulated. The Fish and Wildlife Service publicly announced the ESA delisting of wolves in Wyoming on Aug. 31, but the agency’s delisting rule was not officially published in the Federal Register until yesterday morning.

"Wyoming's wolf management plan is poor policy, weak in its protection of wolves and is based on flimsy science," said Franz Camenzind, a retired Ph.D. wildlife biologist who lives in the Jackson Hole area. "Wyoming's plan sets a very disturbing precedent for other states by abdicating management responsibility of a native wildlife species over nearly 90 percent of the state."

The conservation groups who plan to challenge the federal government’s abandonment of wolf protection in Wyoming offered the following statements on yesterday’s action:

“Wyoming’s anti‐wolf policies take the state backward, to the days when wolf massacres nearly wiped out wolves in the lower‐48 states. Our nation rejected such predator extermination efforts when we adopted the Endangered Species Act,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has turned its back on Wyoming wolves, but we intend to ask the federal courts to make sure that wolves on the border of Yellowstone—our nation’s first national park—have the protections they need to thrive.”

“We will not stand by while the Obama administration allows Wyoming to eradicate wolves through an extreme shoot‐on‐sight predator policy across most of the state,” said Mike Senatore, vice president of conservation law for Defenders of Wildlife. “It’s extremely disheartening to watch the Obama administration unravel one of our country’s great Endangered Species Act success stories by turning over the conservation of wolves to states such as Wyoming and Idaho that treat these animals like unwanted vermin.”

“Removal of Endangered Species Act protections for Wyoming’s wolves is a disaster for the state’s wolf population and for recovery of wolves to Colorado and other parts of the west,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Like past versions of Wyoming’s wolf plan that were rejected by the Fish and Wildlife Service, the current plan fails to ensure the long-term survival and recovery of the state’s gray wolves. [Yesterday’s] decision to remove protections for Wyoming’s wolves fails to rely on best science and represents the worst kind of political intrusion by Secretary Salazar into management of an endangered species.”

“This plan allows Wyoming to manage wolves at the razor’s edge of an already low number of wolves,” said Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It fails to adequately regulate the kill‐on‐sight practices that drove wolves to endangerment in the first place. And it stands as yet another lost opportunity on the part of Fish and Wildlife Service to provide the leadership necessary to secure a legally and scientifically defensible delisting plan for wolves.”

“Wyoming’s plan is a wolf killing plan, not a management plan. It is essentially the same plan that has been rejected before because of the devastating impacts it would have on wolves in Wyoming and throughout the Northern Rockies. Allowing it to move forward now for political reasons could reverse one of the greatest endangered species recovery success stories of all time,” said Bonnie Rice of the Sierra Club’s Greater Yellowstone Resilient Habitats Campaign. “We need a return to the sound, science-based management practices that have for decades brought iconic animals back from the brink of extinction.

Background:

Last year, Congress gave hunters and trappers in Montana and Idaho the right to kill wolves that had been protected under the ESA, nullifying a court victory won by Earthjustice that would have prevented the hunts. Since then, management of wolves in the two states has grown increasingly hostile as the states have expanded their wolf quotas and hunting seasons. In the 2011‐2012 hunting season, hunters and trappers killed 545 wolves in Idaho and Montana. The two states have designed wolf hunting regulations for the 2012‐2013 season that will result in even greater wolf killing.

Even while approving state management in Montana and Idaho, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the past denied this authority to Wyoming due to its extreme anti‐wolf laws. Since then, Wyoming’s wolf management laws have only slightly changed, reducing the area where year‐long, unregulated wolf killing is permitted from 90 percent of the state to about 85 percent of the state. Wyoming retains unrestricted wolf killing even in that five percent of the state for much of the year. The conservation groups contend that Wyoming law remains inadequate to protect wolves.

Yesterday’s legal notice from the conservation groups follows years of legal work by Earthjustice attorneys to protect wolves in the Northern Rockies until their population could sufficiently recover from near extinction and state laws were in place to safeguard their recovery.

After being exterminated in the last century from the western U.S., including Wyoming, wolves have made a comeback in the Northern Rockies, which has helped reestablish ecological balance and boost the regional economy. Yet Wyoming’s wolf population, estimated at 328, is small relative to its neighbors in Idaho and Montana.

Wyoming law allows unlimited wolf killing in the vast majority of the state, including aerial gunning of wolves and even killing wolf pups in their dens. Even in the limited areas of the state where wolf killing is supposed to be regulated under Wyoming law, some people have discussed baiting wolves into conflict with domestic animals to justify reducing wolf numbers.

The Endangered Species Act exists to protect America’s wildlife, including wolves. Handing management authority for wolves over to a state with policies that are openly hostile to wolves and fail to ensure the wolf’s survival violates the Endangered Species Act.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.

Read More Show Less
Giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park, California. lucky-photographer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Bay Area conservation group struck a deal to buy and to protect the world's largest remaining privately owned sequoia forest for $15.6 million. Now it needs to raise the money, according to CNN.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This aerial view shows the Ogasayama Sports Park Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for 2019 Rugby World Cup. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP / Getty Images

The Rugby World Cup starts Friday in Japan where Pacific Island teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga will face off against teams from industrialized nations. However, a new report from a UK-based NGO says that when the teams gather for the opening ceremony on Friday night and listen to the theme song "World In Union," the hypocrisy of climate injustice will take center stage.

Read More Show Less
Vera_Petrunina / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Wudan Yan

In June, New York Times journalist Andy Newman wrote an article titled, "If seeing the world helps ruin it, should we stay home?" In it, he raised the question of whether or not travel by plane, boat, or car—all of which contribute to climate change, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers—might pose a moral challenge to the responsibility that each of us has to not exacerbate the already catastrophic consequences of climate change. The premise of Newman's piece rests on his assertion that traveling "somewhere far away… is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change."

Read More Show Less
Volunteer caucasian woman giving grain to starving African children. Bartosz Hadyniak / E+ / Getty Images

By Frances Moore Lappé

Food will be scarce, expensive and less nutritious," CNN warns us in its coverage of the UN's new "Climate Change and Land" report. The New York Times announces that "Climate Change Threatens the World's Food Supply."

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
British Airways 757. Jon Osborne / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Adam Vaughan

Two-thirds of people in the UK think the amount people fly should be reined in to tackle climate change, polling has found.

Read More Show Less
Climate Week NYC

On Monday, Sept. 23, the Climate Group will kick off its 11th annual Climate Week NYC, a chance for governments, non-profits, businesses, communities and individuals to share possible solutions to the climate crisis while world leaders gather in the city for the UN Climate Action Summit.

Read More Show Less

By Pam Radtke Russell in New Orleans

Local TV weather forecasters have become foot soldiers in the war against climate misinformation. Over the past decade, a growing number of meteorologists and weathercasters have begun addressing the climate crisis either as part of their weather forecasts, or in separate, independent news reports to help their viewers understand what is happening and why it is important.

Read More Show Less