Wyoming Wolf Bargain in the Works

courtesy of Jackson Hole News & Guide
by Cory Hatch

Wyoming and the federal government will head back to the negotiating table after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed with a court decision to reconsider Wyoming’s wolf plan.

The agency Monday withdrew its appeal of the court decision. U.S. District Court Judge Alan Johnson in Cheyenne last year said the Fish and Wildlife Service ignored science when it rejected Wyoming’s plan.

“We will continue ongoing negotiations with Wyoming to reach agreement on a wolf management plan that satisfies the Endangered Species Act,” acting Fish and Wildlife Director Rowan Gould said in a statement Tuesday. “Rather than lose more time in court with an appeal that won’t help resolve the problem, the Service looks forward to working on a plan that can meet the state’s needs while ensuring maintenance of a viable and sustainable recovered wolf population that is connected to other populations in Montana and Idaho.”

At issue is Wyoming’s law and plan that would allow wolves to be killed by any means at any time in roughly 88 percent of the state.

Only in northwestern Wyoming would wolves be managed as trophy game, where they could be hunted according to regulation and season.

Today, wolves, remain protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. They were restored to Idaho and the Yellowstone area starting in 1995 with the goal of turning over management to states once established in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

Gould said state rule is still the goal. “We strongly believe that the recovered Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment of gray wolves is most appropriately managed by states and tribes under approved state management plans,” Gould said.

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