Ranchers blocked again from wolf hearing
Jenkins, Capital Press 10/14/21
Ranchers have lost their bid to oppose
restoring wolves to the endangered species list at a federal
court hearing in November.
Two judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals declined Oct. 12 to summarily reverse a
lower court ruling barring four agricultural groups from
intervening in lawsuits filed by environmental groups.
In a one-page order, Judges William
Fletcher and Jay Bybee ruled the agricultural coalition
could pursue its appeal, but must follow a briefing schedule
that will delay a decision past the Nov. 12 hearing.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in
Oakland will hear arguments that day. The Justice Department
has moved to dismiss the suits, while environmental groups
want White to reinstate federal protection.
White denied letting the American Farm
Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Public Lands
Council and American Sheep Industry Association help defend
White already had granted intervenor
status to the National Rifle Association and Safari Club
International. White ruled the agricultural groups were
adequately represented by the sportsmen.
The agricultural groups argue White’s
ruling was wrong and sought for it to be reversed this week
to allow them to speak at the hearing. Fletcher and Bybee,
however, ruled there was no clear error to allow for a
reversal without further briefs.
The agricultural groups could still
gain intervenor status and the right to appeal White’s
ruling. The coalition has until Nov. 23 to file briefs with
the appeals court.
“We are disappointed that the courts
have refused agriculture a seat at the table in defending
the gray wolf delisting,” American Farm Bureau senior
counsel for public policy Travis Cushman said in a
“The wolf is an endangered species
success story. Its numbers have grown to healthy levels
thanks to careful partnerships at the federal and state
levels. Responsible management should now continue at the
state level to ensure the protection of the gray wolf and
the private property of America’s farmers and ranchers,” he
The agricultural coalition argued that
while sportsmen want to hunt wolves, their members have a
broader interest in managing wolves to protect livestock and
see that ranchers are compensated for losses.
The Trump administration in 2020
delisted wolves throughout the Lower 48. Wolves in Idaho,
Montana, Wyoming and the eastern one-third of Oregon and
Washington already were considered recovered.
While defending the 2020 delisting,
the Biden administration has started reviewing the status of
wolves everywhere, citing expanded wolf hunting in Idaho and
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
concluded in 2020 that wolves in California and the western
two-thirds of Oregon and Washington were extensions of a
robust population in the northern Rocky Mountains.
Environmental groups argue delisting
was premature because wolves on the West Coast and around
the Great Lakes have not colonized their historic range.
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