Judge rejects Wyoming wolf lawsuit | SummitDaily.com

Judge rejects Wyoming wolf lawsuit

the associated press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. ” A federal judge here has dismissed Wyoming’s lawsuit against the federal government over its decision to reject the state’s plan for managing the descendants of wolves reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park.

U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson said he disagreed with the state’s claim that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act in rejecting the plan. The act didn’t come into play because the rejection didn’t determine wolves’ status under the act, Johnson said in a ruling dated Friday.

“The federal defendants were not compelled by statute or regulation to approve the Wyoming plan, nor did the ‘best science available’ mandate attach to their decision making process,” Johnson wrote.

The Interior Department has required Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to submit plans for managing wolves before it will remove them from Endangered Species Act protection. It accepted the plans submitted by Montana and Idaho, but rejected Wyoming’s plan.

Wyoming had wanted wolves considered a potential nuisance, allowing them to be shot with little oversight as they spread outside the Yellowstone region.

Johnson said the Endangered Species Act’s requirements for scientific review only would come into play with delisting, or when wolves come up for status review under the act in 2008 ” five years after they were downgraded from “endangered” to “threatened.”

Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank said on Monday that the state is reviewing its options, which include appeal, legislative action and filing a petition for delisting. He said he expected it would be a week or so before a final decision on the state’s next step was made.

Crank said the state was disappointed with Johnson’s ruling and dismissed the notion that federal officials had tried to work with the state to come up with a plan acceptable to both.

“Our fate is controlled by a federal agency that’s just not responsive, or in this case, not responsive at all, to the concerns of the state,” Crank said.

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