For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: September 11, 2003

Idaho Files Brief With Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals To Allow Enforcement of Wolf Reintroduction Regulations

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden filed a "friend of the court" brief early this week in support of the federal government's appeal of an Idaho Federal District Court's injunction prohibiting the United States Fish and Wildlife Service ("USFWS") from enforcing the Wolf Reintroduction Regulations on public and private land within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area ("SNRA").

The SNRA suit was brought against only the Forest Service for alleged procedural violations in its issuance of permits for federal grazing allotments. The district court, however, enjoined the USFWS from relocating or controlling problem wolves on public and private land.

"The Federal District Court committed an error when it enjoined the USFWS from enforcing the reintroduction regulations," Attorney General Wasden said. "The reintroduction regulations represent a compromise the federal government struck with the citizens of Idaho to protect private property rights. The Federal District Court's decision improperly sets aside this compromise."

Before the USFWS promulgated the regulations, the agency subjected the wolf reintroduction idea to exhaustive review. A congressional mandate for an environmental impact statement process revealed that overall conservation of wolves would be best promoted by reducing conflicts between wolves, livestock and humans. The regulations were drafted to reflect this understanding. "This carefully crafted compromise with the public, the state and tribes allowed wolves to be introduced while providing certainty that wolves would be controlled or relocated if there were conflicts," Attorney General Wasden said.

"The decision of the Federal District Court erodes the confidence of the citizens of Idaho in working with the federal government. If a federal district court can substitute its judgment for that of a federal agency, there will be no public support for finding solutions to the very difficult Endangered Species Act issues," Attorney General Wasden said.

"The purpose of the State of Idaho's amicus brief is to ensure the integrity of the wolf reintroduction rules that were intended to diminish the impact of the wolves on the state's rural residents."

A copy of the brief is available by clicking here.

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