California Cattlemen File Lawsuit Against Fish and Game

Taylor Hillman Cattle

California cattle producers gathered with peers from around the nation at the 2017 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show. The meeting started February 1, just a day after the California Cattlemen’s Association and the California Farm Bureau filed a lawsuit against the California Fish and Game Commission over its June 2014 decision to list the gray wolf as an endangered species in California.

Kirk Wilber, director of government affairs for the California Cattlemen’s Association, said the lawsuit was filed so livestock producers in California could have reasonable management of the wolf.

“Currently, the Department of Fish and Wildlife basically can’t manage this species,” he said. “And the result is that livestock producers are going to pay the price. So, we really just want to have the species delisted. It’s not so that we can have open season on wolves, but so that we can have reasonable management. We simply want to be able to protect our livestock in California, which the law doesn’t permit right now.”

According to Wilber, the 2014 filing is illegal under California law.

“Under the Endangered Species Act, you can only list species or subspecies that are native to the state. There is no indication that the Northwestern gray wolf, which is the species currently in California, was ever native to the state. It’s a species native to Canada,” he explained.

Wilber said livestock producers will not see quick action from the lawsuit.

“Currently, there is not going to be any stay of the Endangered Species Act going into effect. It’s really going to be that management will continue in its present form until this has been resolved,” he said. “Unfortunately, this isn’t a situation where we have some temporary relief for our ranchers. It’s really going to wait until the outcome of this decision.”

Wilber said the lawsuit is based on law rather than interpretation of facts, which should expedite the process slightly.