Wyoming is the latest state in the Mountain West region to be sued by conservation groups over how a federal wildlife kill program is conducted in the state.
Wildlife Services is the federal agency that conducts animal control for states and is responsible for lethally controlling wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, bears and beavers. Over the last few years, several conservation groups including the Center For Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians have sued the agency successfully over its programs in Idaho, Colorado, Oregon and a number of counties in California. The courts have requested the agency revise their plans in those areas to better reflect the latest science.
Attorney Collette Adkins with the Center for Biological Diversity said Wyoming's lethal control plan hasn't been updated in two decades.
"There's just no doubt that things on the ground have changed in the last 20 years," Adkins said. "We have additional species that are of conservation concern. We've got new science."
Adkins said there's lots of new science showing that preventive measures work better than killing. For instance, when a lot of coyotes are wiped out, "they increase their reproduction rate and have more pups to fill in those gaps in the territories. So the science shows that just killing these animals isn't effective and yet they just keep on doing it."
Adkins said, by law, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires that lethal control plans be updated when a lot of new science emerges.
Both Wyoming's Wildlife Services and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department declined to comment.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.