Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke, No. 14-5300 (D.C. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Secretary and the State of Wyoming appealed the district court's judgment vacating a rule delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming as a protected species. The Secretary and the State principally argued that the district court erred by failing to defer to the Service's reasonable interpretation of "regulatory mechanisms" to include the State's management plan for a wolf population buffer, which although not itself legally binding, was a practical entailment of the State's statutory population minima. Environmental groups cross-appealed the district court's conclusions that the Rule includes adequate provisions on genetic connectivity between wolf subpopulations and did not imperil the wolves in a "significant portion" of their range. The court concluded that the record demonstrated that the Service reasonably and adequately responded to concerns about the reliability of Wyoming's management plan, and that the district court did not err by rejecting the Environmental groups' contentions. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment vacating the Rule and otherwise affirmed.