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Lawmakers shoot down Wyoming wolf no-sue clause proposal

Congressional negotiators, at the insistence of the White House, killed a budget rider that would have prohibited lawsuits against a pending agreement to remove Wyoming wolves from the endangered species list, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said Friday.The demise of the provision, which Lummis had tucked into an Interior Department appropriations bill, could open the door to lawsuits by environmental groups and others against the deal, reached in early August.

Under the agreement, negotiated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials and Gov. Matt Mead, the state’s roughly 243 wolves living outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation could be killed on sight in all but the northwest part of the state, where they would be designated as trophy game and could only be hunted with a license.

The plan also establishes a flex zone covering northern Sublette and Lincoln counties, as well as southern Teton County, in which wolves would be protected only from Oct. 15 until the end of the following February.

Wyoming has been trying for years to remove its wolves from the federal endangered species list amid complaints that the animals have preyed on livestock and reduced populations of game animals such as moose and elk.

But Fish and Wildlife had rejected all of Wyoming’s previous wolf management plans, saying unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels.

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