Secretary Babbitt vows to save Yellowstone wolves from the removal order
Speaking on the third anniversary of the release of the first wolves into the wilds of Yellowstone, Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt vowed that "no wolves would be removed from Yellowstone on my watch."
Babbitt was speaking to the 62nd annual meeting of the National Wildlife Federation when he made his remarks, indicating a strong stand would be made by the Department of Interior against Judge Downes' order as well as any upholding of the order by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court. The Tenth Circuit is yet to rule on the case.
It wasn't clear, however, what Babbitt would do. The Department has already appealed the case to the Tenth circuit, so if more is to be done it would, in my view, likely be some administrative action such as reclassification of the reintroduced wolves away from their "experimental, non-essential" status.
This experimental status, an attempt to find compromise with anti-wolf groups, was the technical basis for Judge Downes' controversial ruling last December that all of the reintroduced wolves and their offspring must be "removed" from the Yellowstone Country and central Idaho. Babbitt's attempt to compromise did not move the militant Farm Bureau, who filed the lawsuit. Their suit was unwillingly "joined" by Judge Downes with another suit by several environmental groups who were litigating the experimental statues because they believed that status failed to give the few preexisting wolves adequate legal protection.
Secretary Babbitt received a standing ovation at the National Wildlife Federation meeting. The Federation is the largest conservation group in the United States.