Hunting groups join state in asking dismissal of wolf lawsuit in Wyoming

May 26, 2013 The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Lawyers for the federal government and several pro-hunting organizations have joined the state of Wyoming in urging a federal judge not to allow a coalition of environmental groups to drop a lawsuit challenging recent federal action turning wolf management over to Wyoming.

The coalition, led by WildEarth Guardians, last week moved to dismiss its lawsuit pending before U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne. A lawyer for the coalition said recently it's putting its support behind a similar lawsuit that other environmental groups are pushing in Washington, D.C. Wyoming officials accused the environmentalists of forum shopping.

Environmental groups in both the Wyoming and Washington lawsuits have challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's move last year to turn over Wyoming wolf management to the state government. The groups say the state's management plan, which classifies wolves as unprotected predators that can be shot on sight in most of the state, fails to afford them adequate protection.

Hunters have killed scores of wolves in Wyoming since the state took over management in October. State officials now say they intend to reduce regulated trophy hunting quotas for wolves this fall to prevent populations from possibly falling low enough to trigger a return to federal management.

Colorado lawyer Jay Tutchton represents WildEarth Guardians and other environmental groups in the Wyoming suit. He said last week the groups were dismissing their case because they decided it wasn't an efficient use of resources to have two lawsuits over the same thing going on in two different places.

The Wyoming Attorney Gen-eral's Office on Monday asked Johnson not to allow WildEarth Guardians and the others to drop their lawsuit, accusing them of forum-shopping.

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