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Court of Appeals Rules to Lift Federal Protections on Wyoming Wolves

Court of Appeals Rules to Lift Federal Protections on Wyoming Wolves

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled to lift federal protections that kept gray wolves an endangered species in Wyoming, reversing the order of a lower judge that had sided with environmental groups in 2014. Though it's unclear how soon Wyoming officials will act on the ruling, the state's gray wolves are considered endangered no more.

After a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report determined that the state's wolves were no longer a threatened species, Wyoming officials moved forward with a wolf management plan that included a state-managed hunting season. However, on Sept. 13, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the delisting of wolves in Wyoming. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman ruled that the state's promises to maintain a wolf population were unenforceable, and sided with environmental groups that wished to see the wolf re-listed as an endangered species.

Friday's decision effectively casts the 2014 ruling aside, and will return the management of Wyoming's wolf population back over to the state's own Game and Fish department. The USFWS estimates that 400 gray wolves remain in the state.

In 2011, Wyoming officials had promised to maintain a population of at least 100 gray wolves and 10 breeding pairs during a delisting process that included review by the USFWS and independent wolf scientists. At the moment, it remains unclear if and when the state will look to reinstate its original management plan.

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