It’s been exactly four years to the day since federal managers proposed delisting gray wolves in western and central portions of Washington and Oregon, as well as across most of the country outside of the Northern Rockies.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the species had successfully recovered since its Endangered Species Act listing, and wanted to return management to the states and focus its work on Mexican wolves.
The June 7, 2013 announcement also launched a 90-day public comment period, with a final determination to be “made” the following year.
2014 was three years ago, and with no discernible results, last week the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association announced that it intends to sue USFWS for failing to follow through on the proposal.
According to a story today in the Capital Press, the organization voted to do so at its quarterly meeting.
Reports Katy Nesbit:
Todd Nash, the Cattlemen’s wolf committee chairman, said the absence of a completed analysis three years after U.S. Fish and Wildlife closed its public comment period regarding its environmental policy analysis to delist gray wolves from the endangered species list was one reason for the suit.
“They are legally bound to do that within one year and that’s the preface pressing forward with lawsuit,” Nash said.
The Press‘s story states that while Washington Cattlemen Association members were in also attendance at the quarterly, they were going to take joining the lawsuit back home to their board for more discussion.
So what’s going on with USFWS’s proposal?
It’s a question I’ve asked federal spokesmen on occasion over the years, and today one pointed towards a court case elsewhere in the country as the hold-up.
“Our proposal for delisting the gray wolf in the remainder of its range is predicated on the gray wolf populations in Wyoming and the Western Great Lakes being delisted,” says Sarah Levy. “We are currently waiting for a court decision on delisting wolves in the Western Great Lakes, which puts our larger delisting proposal on hold.”
Last month, under a headline reading “Appeals court holds key to future of wolves,” USA Today reported a ruling from a federal appeals court in Washington DC on the Great Lakes question was “expected soon.”
In March the same court upheld USFWS’s 2012 contention that wolves in Wyoming could be delisted, and that state took over management of the species as of April 26 of this year.
But the newspaper’s story says that the two cases are only similar at a very high level and focus on aspects of state management and federal process.
Time will tell.