Four environmental groups served notice Monday they are ready to go back to court to get stronger protection for wolves in the Northern Rockies.
Their target is the wolf management plan for Wyoming, which allows the predators to be “shot on sight” over 85 percent of the state. It comes as no surprise since it was the major issue that drove opposition to the federal government’s wolf plan across the region including Idaho and Montana.
The groups, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club are pressing the federal government to require Wyoming to have a wolf management plan like Idaho and Montana, which essentially give wolves that don’t get into trouble, some protection statewide.
The same groups are not happy with the fact that hunters and trappers in Idaho and Montana are killing wolves right now entirely within the law, in part because Congress stepped in and ended their legal assault there. In 2011-2012 hunters and trappers killed 545 wolves, which the environmental groups say shows an increasingly hostile attitude toward wolves in the region.
But the groups hope to hang their hat on the same issue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pushed Idaho to the limit a decade ago when it negotiated the state’s wolf management plan.
Since then Fish and Wildlife decided that the amount of suitable habitat in Wyoming beyond the Northwest corner wasn’t worth the same fight. So now it has another fight and both sides, the environmentalists and the state of Wyoming, are not moving.
Wyoming hopes to go to Congress and get under the same legal umbrella that Idaho and Montana have. That happened primarily because Democrats wanted to protect Montana Sen. Jon Tester.
It turned out that it worked since Tester was reelected by a razor-thin edge.
But with Democrats gaining strength in the Senate, and no Democrat to defend in Wyoming, it seems unlikely to happen. So the wolf brings more courtroom drama to the Northern Rockies with little sign of resolution.