March 3, 2017
DC Court Rules in Favor of Wyoming Wolf Delisting
The Washington DC Court of Appeals issued a ruling in favor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), State of Wyoming, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others regarding the delisting of wolves from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming. This case, originally filed in November of 2012, involved a challenge to the FWS delisting of wolves in Wyoming.
“It’s great news. It’s especially great news for the state of Wyoming,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “States should have the ability to manage all wildlife within their borders. This is a great day for the fundamental issue of state-based management of wildlife.”
The plaintiffs challenged the FWS determination that wolves are no longer endangered in Wyoming based on three main arguments: insufficient genetic connectivity, wolves have not inhabited a significant portion of their former range, and Wyoming’s wolf management plan was not a sufficient “regulatory mechanism” to protect wolves. In District Court, the judge determined that there was sufficient genetic connectivity, that the FWS correctly interpreted “significant portion of range” but that Wyoming’s management plan was not a “regulatory mechanism” and so the rule was vacated, putting wolves back on the Endangered Species List.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision affirmed the District Court on the issues of genetic connectivity and range, and reversed the District Court on the issue of Wyoming’s management plan. The Appeals Court ruled the FWS reasonably determined that Wyoming’s management plan, in conjunction with statutes and regulations, is sufficient to maintain the minimum number of wolves within the state. This effectively means that the Circuit Court of Appeals found that the FWS determination was lawful, and Wyoming wolves should be delisted.