Wyo. to Sue Over Feds Wolf Management
By BEN NEARY
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; 10:58 PM
CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The state will sue the federal government for rejecting Wyoming's request to take over management of its gray wolves, which prey on livestock, officials said Wednesday.
"So far, their position has been their way or the highway," Gov. Dave Freudenthal said Wednesday of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "We've chosen neither; we're going to court."
Last month, the federal government rejected Wyoming's petition to remove wolves in the state from the federal list of threatened and endangered species. In addition, the federal agency has yet to take action on the state's request to amend regulations.
Freudenthal has said he sees the spread of wolves outside the national parks as a public safety concern.
State officials had proposed allowing trophy hunting of the animals in certain areas and classifying them as predators that could be shot on sight elsewhere. The plan would allow the wolves to live undisturbed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
Federal officials said last month that they can't remove protections until the state sets firm limits on how many wolves can be killed and agrees to a minimum population. The state is now home to an estimated 252 wolves.
Freudenthal and state Attorney General Pat Crank sent a letter Wednesday to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and wildlife service officials notifying them of their intent to sue.
Ed Bangs, coordinator of the wildlife service's gray wolf recovery effort in Helena, Mont., said he was not surprised by Wyoming's action.
"They said they would pursue this thing in court, no matter how long it took," Bangs said. "I had hoped we could work out something more productive than litigation."
The Fish and Wildlife Service has already turned management of wolves over to state agencies in Montana and Idaho. About 400 wolves have been killed in those states for preying on livestock and for other reasons since 1987, Bangs said.
The federal government continues to manage wolves in Wyoming outside the national parks, Bangs said. Last year, wolves killed at least 54 cattle and 27 sheep, and 41 wolves were killed, he said.