Bringing wolves back to the West could hit a snag as both ranchers and environmentalists say they will sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Wilderness Society,
Idaho Conservation League, Sierra Club and four other environmental
groups notified Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt Sept. 7 that they
will sue the agency within 60 days unless the Idaho portion of the
plan is modified. Although the groups differ on the finer points of
the plan, they all contend that introducing 15 Canadian wolves as
an "experimental, non-essential population' - without the full
protection of the Endangered Species Act - is a mistake.
Not only will the designation allow ranchers and
federal officials to kill introduced wolves, they say, but it will
allow the killing of any wolf that colonizes the area on its own.
"As soon as a wolf crosses I-90, it becomes open
season," says Doug Honnold, Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
attorney. Honnold says he wants full legal protection for all
wolves in the area. The environmentalists say they are targeting
Idaho instead of Yellowstone because scientists have more evidence
that wolves are already recolonizing the Idaho area on their own.
Meanwhile, the National Farm Bureau and its
affiliates in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana say they will soon file
their own 60-day notice of intent to sue, fearing wolf predation of
livestock. The groups hope to stop the entire
* Shara Rutberg, HCN