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Simultaneous lawsuits on wolves can proceed

Apr 24, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A recent ruling by a federal judge means that two parallel lawsuits will continue to run in Cheyenne and Washington, D.C., over environmental groups' challenges to the federal government's transfer of wolf management to the state of Wyoming, lawyers say.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington this month denied a request from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Wyoming to transfer one lawsuit to federal court in Cheyenne, where a similar case already is pending.

Environmental groups in both lawsuits claim Wyoming's management plan classifying wolves as predators that can be shot on sight in most of the state is inadequate.

They want the courts to restore federal protections.

Wyoming's wolf management plan allows trophy hunting in a flexible zone along the border of Yellowstone National Park. The state game department recently reported that hunters killed 68 wolves in the state from Oct. 1, when federal management stopped, through Dec. 31. Of those, 42 were killed in a trophy hunting zone bordering Yellowstone National Park, while 26 were killed as unprotected predators elsewhere in the state.

The game department is proposing to reduce wolf hunting quotas by half for this fall's hunting season.

An agency official said recently that the state's wolf population couldn't withstand another similar hunting season like last year's without coming dangerously close to the required minimum set in Wyoming's delisting plan.

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