The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed eliminating federal endangered species protections for wolves in Wyoming. The move is part of a political compromise that will subject Wyoming’s wolves to predator status—which permits unlimited, shoot-on-sight killing—in nearly 90 percent of the state. Under the Fish and Wildlife Service proposal, wolves within the remainder of the state will be classified as “trophy game,” and subjected to regulated hunting.
Control of Wyoming wolf management has volleyed between the federal government and the state in the last several years. After the Fish and Wildlife Service delisted wolves in 2008 throughout the Northern Rockies, including Wyoming, a federal district court in Montana, in response to a lawsuit brought by Earthjustice, ordered endangered species protections restored due in part to the hostile regulatory regime that wolves faced in Wyoming.
When the Fish and Wildlife Service again sought to delist wolves in 2009, the agency left federal protections in place for Wyoming wolves, recognizing the inadequacy of state-level protections there.
Now, under intense political pressure from Wyoming’s state officials and congressional delegation, the Obama administration cut a deal that hands wolf management over to the state despite only miniscule improvements to Wyoming’s wolf management scheme.
Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold offered this response, “This proposal promotes wolf killing in nearly the entire state of Wyoming. Wolves need more than Yellowstone National Park and a small sliver of habitat next to Yellowstone to truly recover.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting comments on the Wyoming wolf delisting proposal until January 13, 2012. The proposal is available on the Fish and Wildlife website: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf.