December 21, 2005
State to proceed with
lawsuit over wolf management plan
CHEYENNE -- Wyoming officials say they will
proceed with a lawsuit against the federal
government over its rejection of the state's
wolf management plan.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal met Thursday with Paul
Hoffman, the Interior Department's deputy
assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and
parks. The governor said after the meeting he
sees no sincere effort by the federal government
to compromise with the state.
"I think this is all D.C. politics, not
biology," Freudenthal said.
Freudenthal said the meeting convinced him
that federal officials won't budge on their view
of the minimum number of wolf packs that the
state or federal government should be
responsible for maintaining in Wyoming if the
animals are removed from protection under the
Endangered Species Act.
"Basically, their position hasn't changed
from what it was," Freudenthal said. "It's not
really clear why he came out."
Wyoming's plan calls for the state to manage
at least seven wolf packs outside Yellowstone
and Grand Teton national parks. But the U.S.
Department of Interior says it wants the state
to maintain at least 15 packs regardless whether
they're inside or outside the parks.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials have said
they're concerned Wyoming's plan would have
allowed wolves that wandered beyond the greater
Yellowstone area to be shot with little
regulation. The federal government rejected
Wyoming's proposed plan in January 2004.
Wyoming sued last year over the plan's
rejection. A federal judge in Cheyenne dismissed
the lawsuit in March, saying the federal
government had not violated the Endangered
Species Act by rejecting Wyoming's plan because
the rejection didn't change wolves' status under
the act. The state has appealed that decision.
Federal officials have suggested that the
state consider legislation in the 2006 budget
session to alter the state's wolf plan. They
have sought legislation requiring more
state-regulated hunting of wolves.
House Speaker Randall Luthi, R-Freedom, said
he doubts any wolf legislation will be heard in
the coming session, particularly as long as
questions exist regarding the number of packs
that Wyoming would be responsible for
"I don't think it would get enough votes to
be introduced unless that issue is settled,"