On Friday a federal court threw out a case over wolf management in Wyoming. Last year, the State of Wyoming and a coalition of groups representing livestock and hunting interests filed suit to compel federal approval of a state management plan that would permit unregulated killing of wolves throughout most of their range in Wyoming. Earthjustice, representing the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, intervened to defend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has rejected the Wyoming plan as a virtual death sentence for the many wolf packs that travel outside of Yellowstone National Park.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to remove wolves in the Northern Rockies from the Endangered Species list because of increasing numbers of wolves in Yellowstone and central Idaho. However, recovering wolves cannot be entrusted to state management when Wyoming is committed to a policy of indiscriminate shooting, trapping, baiting, and poisoning.
“Wolves are restoring the natural balance in the Northern Rockies,” said Earthjustice attorney Abigail Dillen. “But it’s a delicate balance. Wyoming’s so-called management plan is a throw-back to the nineteenth century killing program that wiped wolves out of the West.”
Fortunately, Wyoming has suffered a major setback in its efforts to implement this state wolf plan. On March 18, 2005, Judge Alan B. Johnson issued an order dismissing all of the State of Wyoming and the livestock industry’s claims. The court ruled that Wyoming had ignored the delisting process set forth in the Endangered Species Act, and stressed that the ESA “strikes a delicate balance between judicial review, agency expertise, and the public’s right to a healthy, sustainable eco-system which fosters biological diversity.”