U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has restored federal protections to wolves in Wyoming, at least temporarily.
Wyoming assumed control over its wolves from the federal government in 2012 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wolves’ numbers had rebounded sufficiently to justify taking them off the endangered species list. The Wyoming wolf population at the time was estimated at 350 but has declined to about 300 animals since.
Environmental groups challenged the delisting in court, saying the Obama administration violated the Endangered Species Act in ceding management of Wyoming wolves to a state plan that failed to ensure the animal’s long-term survival. In her decision on September 23, Judge Jackson sided with conservationists in finding that the Fish and Wildlife Service erred in accepting non-binding promises by the state for maintaining wolves at certain population levels. However, she also left intact the decision which prompted the original delisting: that the species has recovered and is not endangered or threatened in “a significant portion” of its northern Rocky Mountains range.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has already expressed intent to ask a higher court to block the judge’s order and allow the state to keep its wolf management policies intact, including licensed hunting of the animals and rules permitting some to be shot on sight.
Original article available here.