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Sharpshooters but Not Wolves in Rocky Mountain National Park?

WildEarth Guardians to Argue that Wolves Should be Restored

Boulder, Colo.  – This Thursday, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral argument in WildEarth Guardians’ appeal challenging the National Park Services’ refusal to consider to restore wolves to Rocky Mountain National Park to manage burgeoning elk populations, and its decision to use sharpshooters to kill elk in place of wolves.

“Wolves keep elk herds vigilant and mobile every day, while human sharp shooters will not even begin to have those ecological effects,” said Wendy Keefover of WildEarth Guardians. “The business of allowing midnight sharp shooters to skulk around in a national park is absurd,” she added.

The hearing is scheduled at the University of Colorado School of Law (Wittemyer Courtroom) on September 20 at 9:00am. Every year, the Court moves its hearings to law schools in its region as part of a “Bench and Bar Week.”

The Park Service recognized the need to manage overpopulated elk in Rocky Mountain National Park in its December 2007 Elk and Vegetation Management Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement, but it failed to consider a wolf reintroduction to better control elk herds. The agency’s failure to analyze a wolf option not only violates federal planning mandates, its decision to use sharpshooters also violates the agency’s organic act that established the Park Service as an agency that is supposed to prioritize conservation.

“Wolves keep fragile stream communities healthy. The plants and a whole host of fauna – from fish to frogs to song birds to moose –will thrive in the presence of wolves,” Keefover affirmed. “Added to that, wolves excel at keeping elk herds healthy by preying upon the weak and sick,” she remarked.

WildEarth Guardians is represented by the University of Denver Sturm College of Law Environmental Law Clinic. Professor Mike Harris heads the clinic; however, a student, Jenni Barnes, will argue the case before the panel of judges.

Ms. Barnes, a third year law student, recently finished in the finals of the Pace National Environmental Moot Court Competition. She beat out 74 other schools.

A press conference will follow the hearing. An ambassador wolf may be in attendance.


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