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 Wyoming, U.s. Head To Court To Resolve Wolf Disput
Posted: Aug 22 2006, 01:33 AM


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By The Associated Press

CHEYENNE - The state of Wyoming has filed notice that it intends to sue the federal government over two issues: last month's rejection of the state's wolf-management plan and federal inaction on the state's request for changes in wolf-management regulations.

"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.

Wyoming has proposed a wolf-management plan that generally calls for leaving the animals alone in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks while allowing trophy hunting for them in areas outside the parks. The state has also proposed allowing wolves to be shot on sight as predators elsewhere in the state. In addition to wolves' preying on livestock, Freudenthal has said he sees the spread of the animals outside the national parks as a public-safety concern.

"It seems to me that we have a plan that satisfies the scientific obligation that they have imposed on us," Freudenthal said.

In rejecting Wyoming's proposal, federal officials said last month that they can't remove protections until the state sets firm limits on how many of the animals can be killed and agrees to minimum population figures. The state is home to an estimated 252 wolves.

Ed Bangs, coordinator of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's gray wolf recovery effort in Helena, Mont., said Wednesday that he hadn't heard of Wyoming's formal notice that it would sue the federal government. But Bangs said it was no surprise.

"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. Bangs said about 400 wolves have been killed in those states for preying on livestock and for other reasons since 1987.

"They're continuing to kill wolves that are chronic problem animals," Bangs said, adding that his agency doesn't intend to leave Wyoming ranchers facing problem animals on their own.

Bangs said the federal government continues to manage wolves in Wyoming outside the national parks and said 106 have been killed since the reintroduction of the species. Last year alone, he said, 41 wolves were killed in the state. "Those wolves killed last year 54 cattle and 27 sheep, confirmed, and one dog," he said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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