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November 29, 2012 9:05 am

EDITORIAL: Wolves back in court

Written by Ilene Olson

Once again, wolf management in Wyoming is the subject of lawsuits in federal courts.

Environmental groups filed two lawsuits this month challenging Wyoming’s management of wolves and asking for wolves to be designated as endangered.

Of course, this came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the issue, which has become a seemingly endless tug-of-war between environmental groups, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This time, however, the Game and Fish and the Fish and Wildlife Service are on the same side of the issue: defending Wyoming’s right to manage wolves in the state.

Environmental groups, however, see things differently. Both lawsuits ask courts to put wolves back on the endangered species list, which would prevent them from any wolf hunting in the state, and challenge Wyoming’s management plan classifying wolves as predators in most of the state.

While Montana and Idaho were provided congressional protection last year from wolf-related lawsuits, Wyoming’s intractable stance on wolf management resulted in this state being left out of the bill that provided that protection. So, unless Congress is willing to enact a similar protection for Wyoming, it looks like the issue in Wyoming is stuck in a revolving courthouse door.

The obvious answer is for environmentalists and wildlife management agencies to find a way to reach a compromise agreeable to both.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be about compromise or agreement. It’s all about winning. For the most part, there’s no evidence that either side intends to compromise.

It should be noted that the Greater Yellowstone Coalition is the exception. While the group opposes Wyoming’s dual status designation for wolves, the coalition has chosen not to join either lawsuit. Instead, coalition leaders are working with state officials to try to increase the size of the trophy area.

Now that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are on the same page on this issue, it’s time for environmentalists to realize that the wolf population, while an important segment of Wyoming wildlife, must be managed. That management is needed to prevent devastation of Wyoming’s elk, moose and deer populations and to limit wolves impact on ranchers’ livelihood.

Wyoming lawmakers also may find that additional compromise is needed to end this longstanding court battle.

Until both sides work together, it appears we can expect more of the same — at a tremendous cost to taxpayers. Imagine using the money spent now on wolf litigation to manage and protect Wyoming game and fish instead. Now, that’s a novel idea.

3 comments

  • Comment Link December 01, 2012 8:59 am posted by Jim

    I disagree that Wyoming is not compromising. I would say the compromise on the part of Wyoming was made in allowing for the introduction of wolves in Yellowstone, and setting the trophy zone to include vast portions of the Shoshone, Bridger Teton, and Grand Targhee National Forest. If Wyoming was not compromising it would be a predator zone in all of the state. In my opinion, one side is not willing to compromise and it the side that keeps the lawsuits coming.

  • Comment Link December 01, 2012 5:07 pm posted by Sam Parks

    I support regulated wolf hunting in Wyoming, however the fact that wolves are treated like vermin in 85% of the state is completely unacceptable. If G&F would drop their insistence on the predatory zone and commit to a statewide trophy game area, I think most of these groups would drop their objections. I certainly would.

  • Comment Link December 31, 2012 1:33 pm posted by John Wormell

    I don't think that the argument is about wolves at all. It's all about winning and making money for the lawyers. The lawyers that represent the wolf advocates keep milking this for all it's worth. The same people that were protesting for, or against anything that suited their fancy back in the '60s have grown up, and have lots of money now,too much education and not enough to do, so the need to protest or to make waves or rock the boat or what ever you want to call it is still in their blood. Yhe wolves don't matter. It's all about money and the need to protest something.

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