Lawsuit on wolf delisting to be filed Monday

Wolf lawsuit on Monday. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Eric Keszler, who speaks for Wyoming Game and Fish, says the following in the article above: “Keszler said the current [Wyoming] population can withstand the recent wolf shootings in Sublette County. He pointed out that roughly 90 percent of Wyoming’s wolves live in the trophy game area, and that Wyoming’s wolf population has continued to grow despite losing between 60 and 80 wolves per year due in control actions resulting from livestock depredations.”

Kesler’s remarks are not true when we consider last year. In the past Wyoming’s wolf population outside Yellowstone Park grew despite fairly heavy “control” killings. Last year, however, the wolf population in Wyoming barely grew, just 7%, because official and other killings were so high.

The non-national Park Wyoming wolf population (official count) follows.

2003 82 wolves
2004 101 wolves
2005 134 wolves
2006 175 wolves
2007 188 wolves




  1. Mike Honcho Avatar
    Mike Honcho


    Forum selection is a critical aspect of litigation. Although I do not know Judge Molloy, nor Judge Winmill, I am not certain that trail court selection was as important as circuit court selection. However, trail court selection could be important for an immediate injunction, which will likely be requested once the complaint is filed. Perhaps, Molloy will be more likely to issue an injunction requiring the states to suspend their current management plans.

    Another factor that may have influenced the decision to file in Missoula is location. I believe that lead counsel in this case is Earthjustice’s Doug Honnold who is the managing attorney at the Northern Rockies office, which is located in Bozeman. I imagine that Doug and his staff have a budget for this case and do not want to allocate too much of that budget to travel expenses.

    What I would be interested to know is how the division of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming between different districts and circuits will affect this case. Suppose that Judge Molloy grants a motion for a temporary injunction? Will that decision be binding in Idaho? In Wyoming? What happens if this case is heard by the Ninth Circuit? If the Ninth Circuit holds that the wolf’s delisting was contrary to the ESA is that holding binding in Wyoming?

  2. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone

    In Idaho, which has the most wolves (700 in 2007 according to agency figures) of the three N Rockies states, the Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game has classed wolves as a big game animal and will manage them like black bear and mountain lion. This means a lengthy hunting season (September through December, or maybe even longer so “lion hunters” get to pursue and kill wolves during winter).

    I hope Earthjustice can prevail. And if anyone knows how to convince the Idaho Dept of Fish & Game that wolves are different than black bears and mountain lions, have at it.

    The latest March 2008 IDFG newsletter says: “SAME PHILOS0PHY IS USED IN MANAGING ALL HUNTED WILDLIFE SPECIES”. So, IDFG is lopping wolves with species like turkeys, elk, badgers, pronghorn, marmots, mountain goat, moose, squirrels, coyotes, fox, black bear and sage grouse?

    The bottom line is that in order for an animal to have worth with Idaho decision makers — keeping in mind we are the most Republican “conservative” state in the nation — an animal has to be hunted and killed.

  3. Heather Avatar

    Have you been out in the field today Lynne??

  4. Lynne Stone Avatar
    Lynne Stone


    Yes, of course, every morning at daybreak. Some interesting observations that I’d best not go into here.

    But, will say this. When I returned to the cabin, I soon heard a commotion outside. Opened cabin door. Wolf and coyote were having a vocal standoff out by the old barn. My dog, Bo, leaped passed me and raced toward wolf and coyote. All three canines disappeared over ridge. I started loading my shotgun in order to fire rounds into the air, so Bo – an abandoned mutt who must have once been shot at – would hear and return to cabin.

    Bo came back before I had to fire off shotgun blasts. Then I heard the wolf and coyote having another round of wolf-coyote talk, then all was quiet. Skiied up to check out things and tracks said that wolf went one way, coyote another. Doggone, I wish Bo hadn’t chased away wolf and coyote. I’d liked to have watched them and maybe got a photo.

  5. Heather Avatar

    wow what an event. wish I could have that. I should move to the country… while there is something left to be watched.
    I saw your photo from this blog on another blog… someone must have just cut and pasted. if you want to know where I’ll have to dig and remember where I saw that…

  6. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Mike says:

    What I would be interested to know is how the division of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming between different districts and circuits will affect this case. Suppose that Judge Molloy grants a motion for a temporary injunction? Will that decision be binding in Idaho? In Wyoming? What happens if this case is heard by the Ninth Circuit? If the Ninth Circuit holds that the wolf’s delisting was contrary to the ESA is that holding binding in Wyoming?

    My understanding is that if Molloy grants a temporary injunction that decision would indeed hold in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. If the Ninth Circuit holds the delisting is contrary to the ESA that is indeed binding in Wyoming.

    Problems that arise like is suggested happen when there are contrary decisions issued in different districts or circuits. The decision holds until losing party petitions for higher review, is granted such review, and then prevails with such review – unless petitioning party is able to demonstrate just cause for an injunction of lower decision. So, if Earthjustice, Defenders, NRDC, WWP, et al prevail on the merits of a 9th Circuit decision, Wyoming could use 10th Circuit decisions to appeal to the Supreme Court.

    Basically, in Idaho, if Winmill issued a decision that could be perceived as contrary to an interpretation of law that Lodge issued (both same district decisions), that fact makes the decision ripe for review in the circuit court, but the decision holds across all of the land unless the higher court is willing to enjoin it, a willingness that must compelled by tests of harm to petitioning party.

    So, let’s say Wyoming loses at the Ninth Circuit, but an existing decision out of the 10th Circuit compellingly suggests that Wyoming would have won in the 10th Circuit ~ Wyoming could use that discrepancy in petitioning for review at the Supreme Court.

    BUT – the specific decision holds until the higher court issues an injunction, or the case is heard and decided at the higher court.

  7. Brian Ertz Avatar

    remember, this is a federal action to delist. If the delisting is enjoined, the feds decision to delist is gone – the decision affects the feds’ course, not the states. the federal agency can’t release management to Wyoming.

  8. Heather Avatar

    Brian I have a question for you I am hoping you can answer re: Wyoming Farm Bureau v Bruce Babbitt 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, filed 1/3/00. Do you know why plaintiffs like the WY Farm Bureau and Predator Project, Sinapu, and Gray Wolf Committee were joined together against Bruce Babbit, FWS? Was it judicial economy? Plaintiffs were against the reintroduction but for very different reasons….

  9. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    yes heather they joined the plaintiffs suits under one umbrella as being against re-introduction. the different reasons as to why was not a determining factor

  10. Heather Avatar

    Thanks Jeff E but I am looking for more legal information besides judicial economy…. there must be something else.

    Unfortunately, I think that was the beginning of the end of the success of recovery right there. Those reasons should have been 2 different lawsuits.
    I wonder if the EarthJustice et al at the time had to give in in the end, just to get recovery on the table… and if that could have been bypassed somehow. Because now we are back where we started. No offense to anyone who worked on this, I am just stating what I think.
    It almost seems as if the 9th circuit would be better than the 10th for the current suit.

  11. Heather Avatar

    I think it is in the Fed rules (regarding parties)book but I dont remember the number and how that rule applies.. anyway thanks for answering.

  12. Brian Ertz Avatar


    i am unsure but will see if i can find any declarations or info tomorrow.

  13. John Avatar

    Will this affect all delistings?

  14. YNP4me Avatar

    This just in….


    [color=blue]Earth​justi​ce files​ its legal​ chall​enge to the wolf killi​ng[/color]

    Just momen​ts ago, Earth​justi​ce attor​neys filed​ our case to stop the wolf slaug​hter in the north​ern Rocki​es.​
    And we aim to win!

    Earth​justi​ce has been calle​d upon by a coali​tion of envir​onmen​tal and anima​l right​s group​s — inclu​ding the Natur​al Resou​rces Defen​se Counc​il,​ Sierr​a Club,​ Defen​ders of Wildl​ife,​ and the Human​e Socie​ty — to use our legal​ exper​tise to stop the killi​ng now and compe​l the feder​al gover​nment​ to reins​tate Endan​gered​ Speci​es Act prote​ction​s for wolve​s until​ true recov​ery is achie​ved.​

    As soon as the feder​al gover​nment​ offic​ially​ delis​ted the north​ern Rocki​es gray wolf from Endan​gered​ Speci​es prote​ction​s,​ we filed​ a manda​tory notic​e of inten​t to chall​enge the decis​ion.​ Our notic​e went unans​wered​ by the U.S. Fish and Wildl​ife Servi​ce.​ Now it’s time for our day in court​.​

    The USFWS​ faile​d to take into accou​nt basic​ princ​iples​ of conse​rvati​on biolo​gy,​ disre​garde​d its own polic​ies,​ and depar​ted from past pract​ice in delis​ting the wolf.​

    As we go to court​ today​,​ Earth​justi​ce will argue​ that the Servi​ce:​

    -​-​used an outda​ted and biolo​gical​ly inade​quate​ stand​ard for deter​minin​g the numbe​r of wolve​s that must be prote​cted in order​ to maint​ain a genet​icall​y viabl​e popul​ation​;​

    -​-​ignor​ed the agenc​y’​s own requi​remen​t that wolve​s in the north​ern Rocki​es’​ core recov​ery popul​ation​s must be conne​cted and inter​breed​ befor​e they can be deeme​d recov​ered;​ and

    -​-​faile​d to take into accou​nt that state​ laws that curre​ntly gover​n the fate of the wolve​s in the absen​ce of feder​al prote​ction​s allow​ unreg​ulate​d wolf killi​ng.​

    At this momen​t,​ at least​ 20 wolve​s have alrea​dy been kille​d in the north​ern Rocki​es and aroun​d Yello​wston​e Natio​nal Park.​

    Earth​justi​ce is using​ all the legal​ tools​ at our dispo​sal to stop this trage​dy as quick​ly as possi​ble.​ Now that the Servi​ce has issue​d its final​ decis​ion,​ the court​s are the best way to stop the slaug​hter and get adequ​ate prote​ction​s reins​tated​ for the wolve​s.​

    Learn​ more about​ what we’​re doing​
    to save these​ magni​ficen​t,​ iconi​c anima​ls.​


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan