By Kerin Clark, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation (Written May 2009)
Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg spoke at the May 29th Wyoming Farm Bureau Foundation Symposium addressing the status Wyoming’s legal challenge to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) April 2, 2009 final rule on wolves. “I view my job in this case to make sure that the federal government follows the federal law with respect to this issue,” Salzburg stated.
“I’m supposed to be the attorney representing the interests of the state. Although I’m appointed, not elected, I’m nonetheless the representative of the citizens,” He continued. “This is a case that is difficult to understand who these people are. There are conservation groups, agriculture interests, sportsmen and outfitters, businesses that surround the trophy game management who the conservation groups say gain an economic benefit, and the fifth group are the agnostics who would sort of like to go to Yellowstone and see a wild pack of wolves, but they don’t want them in their backyard.”
According to Attorney General Salzburg, there are three areas where the state of Wyoming feels the USFWS April 2, 2009 wolf delisting rule (not to delist wolves in Wyoming) does not comply with law.
First, the Endangered Species Act requires listing and delisting decisions to be made on the best scientific decisions available. “The fact that the trophy game management area is only 12,000 or so square miles and only encompasses 12% of the surface area of the state and the fact that we have classified predators in 88% of the state should not be the question,” Salzburg explained. “Rather the appropriate question to ask, is the trophy game area sufficient to preserve the recovered population of wolves into the foreseeable future?”
The second issue is in regards to the number of wolves Wyoming is responsible for managing. “In the new final rule, Wyoming is told in order for our wolf regulatory mechanisms to be deemed adequate we have to manage for 15 breeding pair and at least 7 breeding pair outside of the parks,” Salzburg explained. “That means on the ground Wyoming’s requirement to manage is going to be greater than the requirement imposed on any other states.
“Historically, we met numeric recovery back in 2002,” Salzburg continued. “On average our requirement would be to manage for 18 breeding pair, whereas other states would manage 15 breeding pair. This is explained in the rule as “something that will provide a buffer.”
“The minimum recovery criterion is 10 breeding pair, the deal to manage for 15 pairs and 150 wolves is the buffer—so why is Wyoming having to manage for 2 buffers?,” Salzburg questioned.
“The third issue deals with the way the federal government treated the rules we promulgated,” Salzburg explained. “We call them Chapter 21 rules related to wolf management. FWS ignored those rules because they said they were just emergency rules and we need “trophy game” status because of the genetic exchange. We will have a good time with that in court.”
The State of Wyoming challenge was filed with the U.S. District Court for Wyoming on June 2, 2009. The Wolf Coalition, of which the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation is a member, filed to intervene with the State of Wyoming.