Back in 2012, wolves were removed from the federal Endangered Species List and the state was briefly allowed to manage the population. But wildlife advocates sued and, two years later, the species was relisted because Wyoming’s management plan didn’t include a legal requirement that the state would maintain a buffer of over 100 wolves in areas outside Yellowstone National Park.
Then, last week, a federal appeals court heard arguments on both sides for why Wyoming can or can't be trusted to protect that number of wolves without such a legal requirement in place.
Brett Hartl is with the Center for Biological Diversity, a plaintiff in the case.
“You know, the judges didn’t seem very receptive to that because the Endangered Species Act isn’t designed to have states just say, trust us, things will be okay,” Hartl said.
Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Renny MacKay said that, whatever decision the court makes, the state is capable of picking up where it left off.
“We stand ready to manage wolves again,” MacKay said. “And we do feel like our track record showed that we can and are absolutely committed to maintaining a recovered population that has genetic diversity and is in the best interest of wolves.”
A decision from the federal appeals court on Wyoming’s wolf plan could come as early as the end of the year.