From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 46 - February 12, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolves: SC Farm Bureau files notice of intent

by Cat Urbigkit

Last Friday afternoon, the Sublette County Farm Bureau filed its notice of intent to sue federal officials over wolf management in Wyoming.

According to the notice, signed by Sublette County Farm Bureau President Jim Urbigkit, "Of the numerous problems Sublette County Farm Bureau members are experiencing due to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management of wolves in western Wyoming, of utmost concern is the FWS failure to control wolves that prey on livestock, in violation of the special rules establishing an experimental population of gray wolves in the Yellowstone region."

Leaving livestock-killing wolves in place is not in compliance with the final rule allowing the wolf reintroduction, Farm Bureau maintains, and it is not consistent with the promises made in the final environmental impact statement for the reintroduction of gray wolves to this region.

According to the notice: "The rule and the environmental impact statement establishing the nonessential, experimental wolf population promised that when there are six or more pair of wolves in a recovery zone, wolves that prey on livestock will be removed. This has not occurred in all cases."

The Farm Bureau letter also pointed to wording in the final rule that stated: "When depredation occurs on public land and prior to the establishment of six breeding pairs, depredating females and their pups would be captured and released, at or near the site of capture, one time prior to October 1. If depredations continue, or if six packs are present, females and their pups would be removed. Wolves on private land under these same circumstances would be moved."

The letter maintains that FWS is now attempting to change the terms on which wolf recovery is defined. "While the final rule calls 'a viable recovered wolf population' as consisting of '10 breeding pairs in each of three recovery areas for three consecutive years,' FWS has rejected Wyoming's wolf management plan, now demanding Wyoming commit to maintaining 15 packs of wolves, and now wants to redefine what constitutes a wolf pack as well," the letter stated.

Other shortcomings include the failure to move (relocate) wolves that displace wildlife onto private lands and failure to turn management over to the states when the 10 breeding pair target was achieved, according to the letter.

Farm Bureau's notice concluded: "The most important focus of Sublette County Farm Bureau's complaint is the failure of the Department of the Interior to follow the management outlined in the preferred alternative in the environmental impact statement for the wolf reintroduction program (1994) and the subsequent record of decision. Management of wolves must comply substantially with the alternative chosen by the Secretary of the Interior. If management actions have not complied with the management outlined in the EIS, that means that the impacts of the federal actions were not examined, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. We allege that FWS has indeed violated NEPA by straying from the management actions outlined in the EIS."

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