April 10, 2009
The State of Wyoming announced Thursday that it will challenge in federal court a decision by the U.S. Department of Interior to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, but not in Wyoming.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) last week published the final rule delisting the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountain region. As the service had previously advised, wolves will be delisted only in Montana and Idaho, while the Wyoming wolf population will remain protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a non-essential experimental population.
"Wyoming believes that the decision is flawed for a number of reasons and will challenge the decision in court," said Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg.
"This lawsuit is based on the best science we have," Gov. Dave Freudenthal said. "No matter what the FWS does to move the bar, the science has remained constant. We have always believed, and at one time the FWS believed, that the best science available supports delisting as outlined in Wyoming state statute and carried forward in the state's wolf management plan and regulations. From Wyoming's perspective, the only thing that has changed is yet again the FWS. This agency signed off on this very plan and then didn't have the staying power to defend it, even though the science has always supported delisting in all three states."
The basis for the FWS decision to keep Wyoming wolves under ESA protection is its conclusion that, even though the criteria for recovery have been met since 2002, Wyoming's wolf management plan is not sufficient to ensure the continued survival of the state's share of the recovered wolf population in the foreseeable future.