PINEDALE — As promised, an environmental coalition against the nationwide wolf delisting process will be taking the federal agencies involved to court – but that is open to negotiation.

On Nov. 6, the Western Environmental Law Center sent its 60-day notice of the intent to sue the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for “violations of the Endangered Species Act.”

The coalition consists of eight groups, including WildEarth Guardians and Western Watersheds Project, which are protesting the FWS’ final rule of Nov. 3 “removing the gray wolf from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife.”

Wolves are delisted in Wyoming and managed by Wyoming Game and Fish in the trophy-game management zone and not in the state’s predator zone.

The notice of intent, written by the Oregon-based law center, lists seven arguments about how the wolf-delisting final rule violates the Endangered Species Act.

  • The FWS erroneously concluded the gray wolf does not meet the statutory definition of a “species.”
  • The FWS’s analysis of different “gray wolf entities” is legally flawed.
  • Gray wolves are endangered throughout a significant portion of their range.
  • The FWS’s analysis of the (de)listing factors is inadequate, not based on the best available science and does not support gray wolf delisting.
  • The Final Rule is not based on the best available science.
  • The post-delisting monitoring program violates the ESA
  • The changes between the proposed and final delisting rules for gray wolf warranted additional peer review and additional public comment.

“Although gray wolves are making a remarkable comeback in select areas of the United States – e.g., a population of roughly 4,200 individuals currently roam the region surrounding the Great Lakes – they have yet to return to much of their historic habitats across vast portions of the American West, including in the Pacific Northwest, the Central/ Southern Rockies and the Southwestern United States (including Nevada and most of California),” the notice states.

“The gray wolf is still recovering across much of the contiguous United States as it attempts to reestablish itself across its historical range,” it continues, “and as such, a determination that the wolf has recovered is premature. As explained in greater detail below, the final rule violates section 4 of the ESA and its implementing regulations. The final delisting rule continues the Service’s decades-long attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole.”

Law center attorneys indicate in the notice of intent that they are willing to negotiate. “We would, however, prefer to avoid litigation. As such, we welcome the opportunity to meet with (FWS) to discuss these concerns and attempt to come to a meaningful resolution of these issues to avoid seeking relief from a court after costly and time-consuming litigation. Please let us know at your earliest convenience if you would be interested in such a meeting.”

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