December 18, 1997
The U.S. District Court for Wyoming on December 12, 1997 held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final rules establishing a nonessential experimental population of gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho and southwestern Montana are unlawful and ordered the Service to remove all of the reintroduced wolves and their offspring from the Yellowstone and central Idaho areas.
However the judge deferred the effect of his order pending the outcome of any appeal. The U.S. Government has 60 days during which to consider a possible appeal.
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho beginning in March 1995 as part of an effort to restore their populations. The reintroduced wolves are designated a “non-essential, experimental” population to allow for more flexibility in managing them than would be available if they were designated an “endangered” species.
Pending the outcome of any appeal of the December decision, the Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to manage the wolves according to the reintroduction plan approved in 1994, and the laws and regulations regarding reintroduced gray wolves are unchanged.
Regulations establishing experimental populations of gray wolves in the greater Yellowstone area and central Idaho will remain in place pending appeal. These include:
1. Any landowner and/or livestock producer who think they have problems involving wolves should call their local representative from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services (formerly Animal Damage Control). An agent with Wildlife Services will investigate the problem and advise the parties as to necessary actions.
2. Landowners could, in an opportunistic non-injurious manner, harass adult wolves on private land at any time. These actions must be reported to a representative of the Fish and Wildlife Service or USDA Wildlife Services within seven days.
3. Public land grazing permittees could, in an opportunistic, non-injurious manner, harass adult wolves near their livestock at any time. These actions must be reported to a representative of the Fish and Wildlife Service or USDA Wildlife Services within 7 days.
4. After six or more breeding pairs of wolves are established in a recovery area and after designated authorities have confirmed livestock losses have been caused by wolves and have been unable to stop further losses, individuals holding grazing permits on public lands can get a permit to take wolves in the act of killing or wounding livestock (cattle, sheep, horses and mules).
5. There are no land use restrictions on private land and after six or more breeding pairs become established in a recovery area, there would no longer be land use restrictions on public lands even near active den sites, except in national parks and national wildlife refuges.
6. Wolves that attack other domestic animals and pets on private land two times in a calendar year would be moved.
7. Compensation for livestock confirmed to have been killed by wolves would be paid from an already established private fund.
8. Wolves in the act of wounding or killing livestock on private land could be killed by livestock owners-managers (maximum 24-hour reporting and evidence of livestock freshly wounded by wolves must be evident).
9. Wolves that are impacting negatively on big game populations can be moved by resource agencies.