Victory For Yellowstone Wolves!!

Richard A Whitenight rum.runner at JUNO.COM
Thu Jan 13 14:36:06 MST 2000


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                 CONTACT: 202.682.9400
January 13, 2000                       Joan Moody x220
www.defenders.org

Victory For Wolves and Wildlife:
APPEALS COURT RULES YELLOWSTONE WOLVES CAN STAY IN PARK

Defenders of Wildlife hailed today's court ruling allowing the
Yellowstone wolves to remain in the park as an historic victory not
only for the wolf, but also for sound wildlife restoration in the 21st
century.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver today overturned a lower
court's 1997 ruling that the 1995 and 1996 Yellowstone wolf
reintroductions were illegal. The district court's ruling had called
for  removal of all the wolves and their offspring, an action that
pleased the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), which was behind
the lawsuit, but that Defenders of Wildlife called a virtual death
sentence. Today AFBF President Dean Kleckner, who called for removing
the wolves, lost his job in an election.

"It's a new day for wolves in more ways than one. The Yellowstone
wolves have been given a new lease on life and so has the principle
that science -- not politics -- should guide wildlife restoration
efforts in America," said Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders
of Wildlife.  "It's been two long years since the district court's
ruling because of the obstinacy of the AFBF and Kleckner, but
ironically he lost his job on the same day the Farm Bureau lost the
suit."

Schlickeisen concluded, "We are very pleased that reason won in this
case and that the wolves will be allowed to remain in the park so
that future generations may enjoy them. We've known all along that
the Farm Bureau's lawsuit was wrong legally and morally."

Using the experimental designation of the Endangered Species Act
(ESA), 66 wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park and
central Idaho in 1995 and 1996.  Experimental designation under
section 10(j) of the ESA allows ranchers to shoot wolves if caught
in the act of killing livestock on private lands.  The 1997 ruling,
spurred by an American Farm Bureau Federation lawsuit, claimed that
such designation was illegal and put any naturally occurring wolf
populations at undue risk, since a naturally occurring wolf would be
fully protected under the ESA.  No naturally occurring wolves are
in Yellowstone, and any pre-existing wolves in Idaho are flourishing
now only because of the tremendous success of the reintroduction
program.

"Discerning no conflict between the challenged experimental
population rules and the Endangered Species Act, we reverse the
district court's order and judgment," the 10th Circuit said today
(97-8127 et al.). Defenders of Wildlife and other conservationists
were represented in the case by Brian O'Neill, a Defenders board
member, and Rick Duncan, of Faegre & Benson in Minneapolis.

Defenders President Schlickeisen noted that "The wolves are doing
better than ever expected .  They are reproducing, hunting natural
prey, and doing their part to return one of America's greatest
treasures to its healthy, natural state." More than 300 wolves are
now found in the  region.

"Except for some rare instances in which Defenders of Wildlife has
reimbursed the rancher, the wolves are mostly staying away from
livestock.  It is incomprehensible that the Farm Bureau has been so
determined to kill these wolves and their offspring," said Schlickeisen.

Defenders maintains its $200,000 Wolf Compensation Trust to
compensate ranchers, at fair market value, for any losses due to
wolves.

Missing from America's first national park for more than 60 years,
the wolves have flourished in the park.  The original 66 have grown
into more than 300 today.

Defenders of Wildlife, a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 380,000 members and supporters is a
recognized leader in wolf recovery and restoration in the United
States.

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