|60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue:
SUBLETTE COUNTY FARM BUREAU Jim Urbigkit, President P.O. Box 1663
Pinedale, WY 82941
TO: Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior U.S. Department of Interior 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20240
Steve Williams, Director U.S.D.I. Fish and Wildlife Service 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20240
Ralph Morganweck, Region 6 Director U.S.D.I. Fish and Wildlife Service Denver Federal Center P.O. Box 25486 Denver, CO 80225-0286
Feb. 6, 2004
Re: 60-DAY NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE: GRAY WOLVES
Dear Secretary Norton, Director Williams and Director Morganweck: In accordance with the 60-day notice requirement of Section 11 (g) of the Endangered Species Act, you are hereby notified that Sublette County Farm Bureau and other interested parties intend to bring a civil action for violations of the ESA and its implementing regulations and the National Environmental Policy Act. Plaintiffs' claims arise from the actions and inactions of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to the nonessential, experimental population of wolves in Wyoming.
Of the numerous problems Sublette County Farm Bureau members are experiencing due to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management of wolves in western Wyoming, of utmost concern is the FWS failure to control wolves that prey on livestock, in violation of the special rules establishing an experimental population of gray wolves in the Yellowstone region.
Leaving livestock-killing wolves in place is not in compliance with the final rule published in the Federal Register on Nov. 22, 1994, nor is it consistent with the promises made in the final environmental impact statement for the reintroduction of gray wolves to this region.
The rule and the environmental impact statement establishing the nonessential, experimental wolf population promised that when there are six or more pair of wolves in a recovery zone, wolves that prey on livestock will be removed. This has not occurred in all cases.
We would also like to draw your attention to the portion of the final rule that states: "When depredation occurs on public land and prior to the establishment of six breeding pairs, depredating females and their pups would be captured and released, at or near the site of capture, one time prior to October 1. If depredations continue, or if six packs are present, females and their pups would be removed. Wolves on private land under these same circumstances would be moved."
In addition, FWS now attempts to change the terms on which wolf recovery is defined. While the final rule calls "a viable recovered wolf population as consisting of 10 breeding pairs in each of three recovery areas for three consecutive years," FWS has rejected Wyoming's wolf management plan, now demanding Wyoming commit to maintaining 15 packs of wolves, and now wants to redefine what constitutes a wolf pack as well.
Other shortcomings include the failure to move (relocate) wolves that displace wildlife onto private lands and failure to turn management over to the states when the 10 breeding pair target was achieved.
The most important focus of Sublette County Farm Bureau's complaint is the failure of the Department of the Interior to follow the management outlined in the preferred alternative in the environmental impact statement for the wolf reintroduction program (1994) and the subsequent record of decision. Management of wolves must comply substantially with the alternative chosen by the Secretary of the Interior.
If management actions have not complied with the management outlined in the EIS, that means that the impacts of the federal actions were not examined, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. We allege that FWS has indeed violated NEPA by straying from the management actions outlined in the EIS.
Jim Urbigkit, President Sublette County Farm Bureau