Judge Finds Wolf Recovery program Illegal

(12/12/1997) - Defenders of Wildlife says it will challenge a ruling by a federal judge today that wolves were reintroduced illegally in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho and must be removed. Judge William Downes of the U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming, ruled that the "reintroduced nonnative wolves and their offspring" must be removed from the reintroduction area, although he stayed the order pending an expected appeal.

Before the release of wolves imported from Canada in early 1995, several suits were filed against the Interior Department in an attempt to block the reintroduction. Defenders of Wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation and others intervened on behalf of the department.

Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders, said, "Defenders of Wildlife will go to court to challenge this decision. It is a tragedy even to discuss dismantling the greatest wildlife restoration effort in our nation's history. The idea of removing the wolves defies common sense. Can you imagine trying to remove dozens of wolves spread out over millions of acres? The idea is ludricous and the American public won't stand for it."

The judge's ruling was based on a technical interpretation of definitions of species. Defenders of Wildlife northern Rockies representative Hank Fischer pointed out, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based its definitions of wolf populations on information provided by leading scientists. The reintroduction was the culmination of two decades of work and extensive public hearings. This is one of nation's greatest conservation achievements and we won't see it undone."



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270