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Appeals court ruling protects wolves in Yellowstone


January 14, 2000
Web posted at: 12:38 a.m. EST (0538 GMT)

DENVER (CNN) -- A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court order which would have forced the removal of protected gray wolves from Yellowstone National Park.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned an order which would have forced the Interior Department to remove the gray wolves from their historical range, including Yellowstone.

The gray wolf, which vanished from the western United States by about 1930, was transported by the Interior Department from Canada and released into remote areas in and around Yellowstone National Park and in central Idaho.

In a case that pitted environmentalists and the government against ranchers, the American Farm Bureau Federation and state chapters in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana filed suit, claiming the more than 300 wolves pose a danger to livestock.

Animal world

In 1997, U.S. District Judge William Downes ordered the reintroduced wolves removed but stayed his ruling pending the decision by the federal appeals court.

As a result of Thursday's ruling, the wolves will be able to remain in experimental areas designated under the Endangered Species Act.

The 1973 Endangered Species Act and a section added by Congress in 1982 were intended to allow the Interior Department flexibility in its approaches to the goals of preserving and recovering threatened animals, the appeals court said.

"This a great victory that will help us go forward in restoring the wolves and their ecosystem," said Lois Schiffer, assistant attorney general for the Environment and National Resources Division.

Environmentalists say the 30 wolves re-introduced into the United States from Canada in 1995 have successfully established packs and have grown in numbers more than tenfold.

Ranchers say the wolves prey on their livestock, and they argue that the program is unnecessary because there is already a viable wolf population in the area.

Correspondent Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

Groups cite successes of Endangered Species Act
June 10, 1999
Bald eagle, gray wolf coming off Endangered Species List
May 1, 1998
Judge says wolf reintroduction program is illegal
December 13, 1997
Wolves' return to Yellowstone sparks controversy
November 11, 1997

Weekly Gray Wolf Recovery Report 12/24/97-1/7/2000
On the Road to Recovery
Endangered Species Coalition
International Wolf Center
Endangered Species Act
The Total Yellowstone Page Wolf Report
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