From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 27 - September 30, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Another wolf suit filed

Last Tuesday, the Wolf Coalition, comprised of 27 different associations, entities and counties, filed a civil suit in the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming against the United States Department of Interior, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior Secretary Gale Norton, FWS Director Steven Williams and FWS Regional Director Ralph Morgenweck. The complaint for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief relates to the defendants' actions in rejecting the Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan and from the defendants' failure and refusal to properly manage and control the gray wolf population in Wyoming.

Wolf Coalition members represent a diverse group of associations, entities and counties, all of whom have been substantially impacted by the gray wolf population killing, injuring, threatening and harassing the wildlife and livestock, according to a release from the group.

The Wolf Coalition's lawsuit emphasizes that the federal government is not following the recovery plan or the final rule for the wolf reintroduction program, and is violating the National Environmental Policy Act by acting contrary to the environmental impact statement analysis for the reintroduction program.

The final rule emphasized that one of the primary purposes for the "non-essential experimental" designation was to provide the FWS with the necessary management techniques and methods to assure that historical uses of public and private lands would not be disrupted by wolf recovery activities. The final rule also emphasized that the "non-essential experimental" designation would assure that wolves that kill livestock could be controlled and that wildlife species would be protected.

The lawsuit states that the defendants' have neglected to fulfill their commitment to prevent and control wolf impacts on livestock and wildlife. Wolves have killed a large number of livestock in many parts of the state and have killed off Wyoming's wildlife populations at an alarming rate. The gray wolf population has severely damaged Wyoming's agricultural, outfitting and tourism industries, thereby also impacting the counties' tax base.

"The rejection of the Wyoming plan is contrary to the recovery plan, which specifically excluded the majority of Wyoming as being 'unsuitable' as wolf habitat," said Lincoln County Commissioner Kathy Davison. "The Wyoming plan provides for substantially more than 6,000 contiguous square miles for wolf protection, which is more than double the amount that the recovery plan said was necessary for wolf recovery."

In January 2004, the FWS rejected the Wyoming plan based on "litigation risk management principles." The Wolf Coalition asserts that this rejection violates the ESA that requires that decisions be based "solely upon the best scientific and commercial data available ..."

"The federal government has not lived up to their end of the deal and have violated the recovery plan, the final rule, and are acting outside of the EIS," Davison stated. "The fact that they are now basing their decisions on political considerations, litigation risk-management principles and speculation is a clear violation of the Endangered Species Act and the commitments they made to the citizens of Wyoming, and to the U.S., prior to reintroduction."

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