Judge Reinstates Protections for Wyoming Wolves
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Sep 23, 2014, 8:39 PM ET
By BEN NEARY Associated Press
Wyoming wolves are back under federal projection after a ruling Tuesday by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Tuesday rejected a Wyoming wolf-management plan that had declared wolves unprotected predators that could be shot on sight in most of the state. Her ruling sided with national environmental groups that had argued Wyoming's management plan afforded insufficient protection for wolves.
"We're thrilled that protections for Wyoming's fragile population of wolves have been restored," said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. "With Wyoming allowing wolves to be shot on sight across more than 80 percent of the state, there is no way protections for wolves should have ever been removed."
Berman ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was wrong to trust nonbinding promises from the state of Wyoming to maintain at least 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside of Yellowstone and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead issued a statement Tuesday saying that he expects the state to seek a stay of the Jackson's decision. He said the state will seek an emergency rule from the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow continued state wolf management.
"We believe an emergency rule can remedy this, and I have instructed the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Attorney General to proceed accordingly," Mead said. He added that until the judge's order is stayed or modified, the killing of wolves in Wyoming will be under federal jurisdiction.
Mead this spring released a survey that he said proved Wyoming's wolf population was stable and that ending federal protections was the right move. The survey, prepared by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, stated there were at least 306 wolves in at least 43 packs — including more than 23 breeding pairs — in Wyoming at the end of 2013.
Wyoming took over wolf management in late 2012 after the federal government ruled that wolves no longer needed protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/judg ... s-25712796
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