Rejection of wolf plan was ‘arbitrary and capricious’
Cheyenne – In a Nov. 18 ruling, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) rejection of the Wyoming Wolf Management plan was arbitrary and capricious. The court remanded the issue back to the FWS to fix.
“We are pleased with the decision,” says Harriet Hageman, attorney for the Wyoming Wolf Coalition. “We have felt all along the FWS actions weren’t based on science.”
The Wyoming Wolf Coalition is a petitioner-intervenor in the case of the State of Wyoming v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The deal from the beginning was that the gray wolf would be introduced into and managed in the Yellowstone area,” continues Hageman. “The FWS rejection of the Wyoming Wolf Management plan was an effort to force Wyoming to adopt a management plan that ensures the wolves move throughout the state. That is directly contrary to everything that the FWS told us when they brought the wolves into Yellowstone.”
Judge Johnson wrote in his ruling: “There is no scientific or commercial data that suggest the state’s dual classification of wolves, in and of itself, cannot meet, accomplish, and maintain the identified recovery goals in the GYA, including northwestern Wyoming.”
He continued in his writing: “the agency’s requirement that the trophy game management area, rather than that portion of northwestern Wyoming (including the GYA recovery area) necessary to facilitate movement and ensure dispersal of wolves so as to preserve genetic connectivity and to ensure that self sustaining populations will be maintained above recovery goals, is arbitrary and capricious and should be set aside.”
In the order Judge Johnson remanded the matter back to the FWS, saying the agency should determine: “whether the proposed regulatory framework ensures the conservation and protection of gray wolves in an approved trophy game area in northwestern Wyoming as required by the Endangered Species Act, and to analyze in this context the defense of property and wolf depredation laws in considering whether the management plan is an adequate regulatory mechanism.”
It is now up to the FWS to determine if they will appeal the decision. If they appeal, the case would go before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.