A decision issued Friday, July 18 in federal court will have significant impacts on the way wolves are managed in Wyoming. Judge Donald Molloy issued an injunction to suspend the removal of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains from the federal Endangered Species List.
Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains were removed from the Endangered Species List in March 2008. A number of environmental groups are challenging the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s delisting decision. Today’s injunction effectively returns management authority for wolves in the region to the federal government while these legal challenges are heard.
Under state management, wolves in Wyoming were classified as Trophy Game animals in the northwest corner of the state and Predatory animals in the rest of the state. In the Trophy Game area, wolves could only be taken by hunters with a wolf hunting license during an open season or by ranchers who had been issued a lethal take permit by the Game and Fish. In the Predatory Animal area, wolves could be taken by anyone at any time.
As a result of the injunction, wolves can no longer be taken anywhere in Wyoming except in cases where wolves are in the act of attacking livestock. Ranchers who are experiencing livestock depredation problems anywhere in the state should contact their local Wyoming Game and Fish office.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and US Fish and Wildlife Service are currently drafting a Memorandum of Agreement to cooperatively manage wolves in Wyoming until a decision is reached on wolf delisting. Under this agreement, the department will likely remain active in monitoring, conflict resolution, and law enforcement activities related to wolves in the state under the authority of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Under the proposed MOA, the department will be active in wolf management only in the Trophy Game area.