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Fri February 20, 2004
Courts Looming in Wolf Dispute as Norton Fires Back
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming continues to move towards a legal battle with the federal government over wolf management. Friday, the House gave initial approval to a bill that will clean up the state's plan but maintains the stance that Wyoming should classify wolves as both trophy game and predators, which has caused the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service concern.
Representative Mike Baker the sponsor of the bill says passing it means a lawsuit is still imminent. Baker says he regrets he cannot bring another bill that would give the state an option to compromise with the federal government and avoid litigation. Interior Secretary Gale Norton responded to allegations made by Wyoming officials over the wolf issue. Norton says her department has been consistently clear with the state about its stance on wolves. Governor Dave Freudenthal has said that the Interior Department sent "mixed messages" to the state. Norton says after reviewing correspondence between her department and the state, she believes the message was clear that the department did not approve of Wyoming classifying wolves as predators in most of the state.