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The HSUS and The Fund for Animals File Lawsuit to Restore Federal Protections for Wyoming Wolves

  • Wolves in Wyoming are currently are great risk due to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove them from the federal list of endangered species.  iStock

The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals filed a lawsuit in federal court today challenging the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove wolves in Wyoming from the federal list of endangered species.

“The agency’s decision to strip Wyoming wolves of federal protection is biologically reckless and contrary to the requirements of the Endangered Species Act,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “Wyoming’s regressive wolf management plan is reminiscent of a time when bounties paid by state and federal governments triggered mass killings that nearly exterminated wolves from the lower 48 states.” 

Since Oct. 1, 2012, when Wyoming took over the management of wolves in the state, at least 50 wolves have been killed through state-authorized hunting and trapping programs. According to the lawsuit, wolves should not have been delisted because they remain threatened by inadequate state management plans and by the lack of interaction between largely isolated state wolf populations. The lawsuit, filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to restore federal protections under the Endangered Species Act for wolves in Wyoming. 

Litigation brought by The HSUS and other organizations stopped previous attempts to eliminate federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. In 2011, Congress passed an unprecedented budget rider that removed wolves in Idaho and Montana from the federal list of endangered species. The rider, however, left wolves in Wyoming on the list because the state did not yet have a federally-approved wolf management plan. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s current delisting decision subjects wolves to indiscriminate killing based on the desire to appease certain interest groups, like the hunting lobby and livestock industry, rather than by sound science, which the Endangered Species Act requires the agency to follow in making any decisions about delisting a species.

Except for a few superficial changes, Wyoming’s current plan contains many of the same flaws that in 2008 a federal court found left wolves in “serious jeopardy.” It also contains many of the same inadequacies that the Fish and Wildlife Service deemed insufficient on multiple occasions. Wyoming designates wolves as “predators” in more than 80 percent of the state. This decision subjects wolves to unrestricted hunting and trapping and allows wolves to be shot on sight, even though there are only a few hundred wolves in the entire state.  

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org