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Feds face new lawsuit over Wyoming wolf management

Gray wolf. USFWS photo.

Conservation advocates say state plan doesn’t meet Endangered Species Act requirements

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wyoming’s wolf management plan is more like wolf eradication, wildlife advocates said this week, announcing they will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prevent the agency from lifting Endangered Species Act protection for the animals.

Earthjustice will represent Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club in the lawsuit.Wyoming’s management plan may not meet Endangered Species Act requirements for adequate regulatory mechanisms to maintain species once they’re de-listed, Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine said in a previous interview with Summit Voice.

Conservation advocates say the state plan will permit nearly indiscriminate slaughter of wolves and provide inadequate protection for wolves even where killing is regulated.

In its de-listing decision, the USFWS said the state plan will ensure a self-sustaining population of wolves based on the best available science, an assertion that is now being challenged by the conservation groups, who have a history of prevailing on this issue. Continue reading

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Feds hand Wyoming wolf management to state

Gray wolf in the winter woods. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Feds say species is recovered; wildlife advocates claim decision violates the Endangered Species Act

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — After several years of legal battles and political negotiations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will hand over management of Wyoming wolves to the state.

According to the agency, the biological goals of the recovery have been met, and Wyoming has committed to maintaining 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs in the state to maintain a healthy population.

But that number is not adequate for the long-term preservation of the species, according to conservation advocates, who say it’s like managing wolves on the knife-edge of extirpation.

Wyoming’s wolf managment plan is far from fulfilling Endangered Species Act requirements for adequate regulatory mechanisms to maintain species.

“They are incredibly weak, at best,” said Earthjustice attorney Jenny Harbine, explaining that the state law allows wolves to be shot on sight as unwanted predators across 85 percent of the state.

“It’s unprecedented from a species to go from full ESA protection to being designated as a predator, essentially as vermin,” Harbine said. “It’s not just the predator status that we’re concerned about. The Wyoming law allows people to kill wolves they feel are harassing wildlfie,” she said. Continue reading

Northern Rockies wolves facing aerial slaughter

Listed as endangered just a few months ago, wolves will be hunted and killed in the northern Rockies after House Republicans made a political end run to avoid complying with the Endangered Species Act.

Congress evades Endangered Species Act; Federal judge calls Wyoming wolf deal an act of political appeasement and says it undermines the rule of law

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Predator conservation in the West took a step backward this week, as the Obama administration and Wyoming Governor Matt Mead finalized an agreement that could permit the aerial slaughter of hundreds of wolves.

The deal was spurred by an act of Congress last April, when western Republicans attached a rider to a budget bill that removed Endangered Species Act protection for wolves in the northern Rockies.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the revisions to the state’s management plan for the gray wolf will promote the management of a stable, sustainable population of wolves and pave the way for the Service to return wolf management to Wyoming. All federal documents relating to the Northern Rockies wolf recovery program are online here.

Conservation groups challenged the the constitutionality of the measure in federal court, but on Aug. 3 U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reluctantly rejected the lawsuit, effectively finalizing the Republican end run around the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Mountain News roundup: ‘Caddyshack’ in Telluride?

Town officials in Telluride are battling a prairie dog colony that's expanding out from its native territory in the Valley Floor open space parcel.

New visitor center planned at Mesa Verde, wolf woes in Wyoming and more

Caddyshack in Telluride?
Prairie dogs are the talk of the town in Telluride, as a colony living in the town’s prized 570-acre Valley Floor open space parcel has outgrown its habitat and is spreading out. But town officials said they don’t want the critters expanding into new habitat, so they’ve hired a wildlife expert to live-trap the animals and bring them back to their home stomping grounds, according to the Telluride Daily Planet.

The town’s management plan for the parcel calls for the mammals to be restricted to their original 23-acre colony. The fate of the prairie dogs apparently was a controversial topic as the plan for the open space parcel was being put together last year. And based on the number of comments on the Daily Planet story, it still is, as many residents weighed in with their thoughts on the subject.

Town officials, meanwhile, must be aware that they’re taking on a Sisyphean task. What they’re hoping for long-term is that some predators move into the neighborhood to keep the population in check. Read the story and the comments here.

More the roundup after the break … Continue reading

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