WYOMING – The powerful Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the third litigant to file a federal suit protesting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) gray wolf delisting in Wyoming.
The FWS’ final rule delisted the state’s wolves Oct. 1 from the endangered species list, putting Wyoming Game and Fish (G&F) in charge of trophy-game and predator management.
“Those suing the federal government appear to have decided to go forward
regardless of what is happening on the ground,” Gov Mead told the Examiner Thursday.
“Rather than looking at Wyoming’s successful efforts, these groups are suing based on what they wanted,” he stated. “Wyoming’s wolf management plan is working well. There is now a proven record of outstanding compliance by hunters with state requirements.”
The state’s trophy-game wolf hunting season through Dec. 30 was deliberately kept modest, according to state officials, allowing a quota of 52 wolves in the state’s northwest four management units with 12 areas.
Thursday, Absaroka hunt area 2 closed with its eight-wolf quota filled, joining Absaroka hunt area 4 (closed Oct. 21) and Jackson area 6 (Oct. 20) and area 9 (Oct. 29). In Jackson’s hunt area 8, one wolf over the quota of seven was taken on Nov. 24, according to G&F spokesman Eric Keszler.
“Two wolves were taken in that area on the same day,” Keszler told the Examiner. “This is not uncommon in hunt areas where we manage on a quota system (e.g., black bears). When we structure our seasons and bag limits, we allow for this possibility.”
Seven wolf-hunt areas remained open as of Friday.
“In hunt areas within the Trophy Game Management Area and Seasonal Wolf Trophy Game Management Area where quotas have not been reached, the wolf season will close at one-half hour after sunset on Dec. 31,” Keszler said.
The governor disagrees that hunting endangers the state’s wolves.
“We are getting the samples necessary to track the genetic diversity of wolves,” he said. “Wyoming set up a conservative hunt and will easily maintain the necessary wolf population and effectively manage the wolves as agreed upon with the federal government.”
HSUS is joined by the Fund for Animals in the suit, filed Friday in the District of Columbia claiming violations of the Endangered Species Act, records show. The suit states it is related to the other two lawsuits with “common issues of fact” that “grows out of the same event or transaction.”
The first was filed Nov. 13 in D.C.’s U.S. District Court against Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and the FWS, by the Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.
On Nov. 20 the FWS requested a change of venue to Wyoming, and the state was approved to file a “friend of the court” brief. Plaintiffs have until Thursday, Dec. 13, to respond to the motion.
The second suit was filed Nov. 27 in Colorado’s U.S. District Court by WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Conservation Congress, Friends of Animals, Friends of the Clearwater and National Wolfwatcher Coalition.
“Gov. Mead supports the motion for change of venue,” said his spokesman Renny McKay. “This lawsuit really is about Wyoming and what happens in Wyoming and the lawsuit, the arguments and the decision should take place in Wyoming, not in Washington, DC.”
For the complete article see the 12-11-2012 issue.
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