endangered species act

Yellowstone Celebrates 20 Years With Wolves

Feb 6, 2015
Yellowstone National Park

Wolves were brought back to Yellowstone 20 years ago this week. They had been missing from the Park’s landscape for almost 70 years. Their reintroduction caught the world’s attention. But wolves are still controversial and still federally protected in Wyoming.

Humans standing alongside the road howled as Canadian wolves were carried into Yellowstone through the Roosevelt arch in January 1995. Excited tourists came from around the world to watch in them Lamar Valley the next spring. They followed the animals through spotting scopes.

Melodie Edwards

When people think of ravens, they often think Edgar Allen Poe:

 A wildlife advocacy group has released its annual report card on the welfare of prairie dogs in the West, and the State of Wyoming received a "D." WildEarth Guardians spokesperson Taylor Jones says for the first time, Wyoming participated in a survey of the state’s prairie dog population. And it designated a research site to investigate the plague, which has contributed to the species’ decline. But she says the state still has a long way to go.

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Wyoming's U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis is one of several lawmakers sponsoring a bill that would delist wolves in Wyoming and the Midwest. The bill comes just months after a federal judge found Wyoming’s management plan unfit to protect the species.

Wyoming’s management plan protected 100 wolves and ten breeding pairs, but also allowed them to be shot on sight. Attorney Rebecca Riley with the Natural Resources Defense Council says it’s not the job of politicians to decide whether a species should be protected or not.

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Wednesday is the deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether or not to list the Gunnison Sage Grouse, a sub-species that’s struggling in Colorado and Utah, under the Endangered Species Act.

In Tuesday’s election, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis won her fourth term in office, beating out Democrat Richard Grayson with almost 70 percent of the vote. She says Wyoming people were clear in their message that they prefer stronger state control.

"I’m looking forward to working with a Republican Senate to keep government at the federal level focused on what it was designed to do," she says. "Which is protect our borders and provide for the defense of this nation. And allow states to function in the areas of air, land, water, wildlife."

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Pinedale, taking part in a ceremony to sign up Wyoming ranchers to help protect sage grouse. These conservation agreements are called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances or CCAA’s. They’re supposed to protect the birds on private lands, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports, some wildlife advocates question whether the program really has the teeth to make a difference.

The Endangered Species Act turned 40 this week, and two birds from Wyoming are ranked among the biggest successes of the law.  The Endangered Species Coalition says the peregrine falcon and bald eagle made their top-ten list. Derek Goldman of the Coalition says bald eagles can be seen regularly in some parts of Wyoming, but he adds that it didn’t happen by accident.

“We can see bald eagles almost everywhere now, but at one point 30 years ago, DDT and killing of eagles had really dwindled their numbers.”

What do you think about efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act?

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Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis will be involved in the latest attempt to reform the Endangered Species Act.  Lummis will take testimony on how the law might be reformed during a hearing in Casper on September 4th.  Lummis says the goal is not to get rid of the Endangered Species Act.

“Our goal is to make the endangered species act work.  And we have a law where only one percent of the species that have been listed have been de-listed.  To me that indicates a law that is failing,” says Lummis.

Lummis says too many species have ended up on the list due to court cases. 

In September a Congressional subcommittee will hold a hearing in Casper as Congress takes another crack at reforming the Endangered Species Act. 

Wyoming Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has for years been supportive of reforming the ESA.  While she is quick to acknowledge that it has been a good law, Lummis is frustrated that once something gets on the endangered species list it rarely comes off.  She joins Bob Beck to discuss this.

Wolverines might be listed as a protected species

Feb 4, 2013

Wolverines could gain federal protection under the Endangered Species Act by year’s end.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has announced a proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species. This is in response to a lawsuit settlement with several conservation organizations, after the FWS determined that wolverines deserve protections, but had been precluded because of higher priority species.

Another lawsuit challenges wolf delisting

Nov 27, 2012

A second group of conservation organizations is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for removing Wyoming wolves from the Endangered Species List. One lawsuit was already filed several weeks ago. The new suit has the same goal, which is to reinstate federal protections for wolves.

Wyoming has promised to maintain at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. But Duane Short with the Laramie-based Biodiversity Conservation Alliance says that’s not enough.

Enviro groups sue over wolf delisting

Nov 13, 2012

A consortium of environmental groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for removing Wyoming wolves from the Endangered Species List.

Now that federal protections have ended, Wyoming controls wolf management. The state’s plan allows the animals to be shot on sight throughout most of the state. In northwest Wyoming, there’s a limited hunting season, and the animals are protected for the rest of the year.

But Andrew Wetzler with the Natural Resources Defense Council says those protections won’t maintain a viable wolf population.

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