Court rules Wyoming wolves be taken off Endangered Species List

A USA appeals court on Friday ruled to lift protections that kept gray wolves an endangered species in Wyoming for years after federal officials removed packs in neighboring states from that list.

A female Mexican gray wolf at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico.

USA wildlife managers in 2012 determined that wolves in Wyoming had rebounded from the threat of extinction and that the state plan to oversee the creatures was adequate to ensure their survival.

Two years later, a federal District judge reinstated federal protections for wolves.

Once almost extinct, the gray wolf population has made a recovery such that it no longer meets the requirement to be considered endangered in Wyoming.

The Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf was a protected species from 1973 until 2011, when the FWS proposed to delist it based on its recovery and Wyoming's conservation management plan. The lower federal court agreed, finding that Wyoming's promise to maintain populations was unenforceable and therefore inadequate.

"But we're going to continue to fight to protect wolves from hostile and extreme state management policies where they exist", Tim Preso, attorney for the environmental law firm Earthjustice, told Reuters by telephone on Friday. The USFWS estimates that 400 gray wolves remain in the state.

Republicans have long wanted to reduce the power of the Endangered Species Act, which can result in strict limits on land use.

Friday's decision effectively casts the 2014 ruling aside, and will return the management of Wyoming's wolf population back over to the state's own Game and Fish department.

While the appeals court's decision is a step forward, the exact details are still being determined, including when wolf hunts would actually occur.

  • Salvatore Jensen