By SARAH COOKE
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 22, 2004; 11:49 PM
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming sued the government Thursday over its
rejection of the state's wolf management plan. In a complaint filed in
federal court, the state accused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of
exceeding its authority, ignoring science and violating the Federal
Procedures Act in rejecting the Wyoming plan.
"The (agency) disregarded the best scientific and commercial data
available ... and rejected the Wyoming plan based on political
considerations, fear of litigation by environmental groups, and
speculation regarding Montana and Idaho adopting plans similar to the
Wyoming plan," the state argued.
The government is requiring Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to each submit
acceptable plans for managing wolves before removing the animals from
Endangered Species Act protection.
Management plans from Idaho and Montana have been accepted. But the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected Wyoming's plan in January,
citing concerns with the state's dual classification of wolves - as
trophy game animals with strict protections in northwest Wyoming and
as predators in the rest of the state that can be shot more or less on
Nearly eradicated in the early 20th century, wolves were reintroduced
in Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and have since thrived. Twelve
packs now inhabit the park and six roam outside the park in Wyoming.
Many ranchers feel wolves are killing too many cattle and state
wildlife, putting their livelihoods in jeopardy.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal said the time had come to defend the interests
of Wyoming ranchers and hunting guides.
"I'm past being reluctant. I'm irritated," he said. "I
mean, let's get this going. This will determine how wolves will be
managed in Wyoming forever."
Ed Bangs, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
expected the agency's decision to hold up in federal court. "We
have no problem with defending our position," he said.
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