JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – A federal wolf expert has retired, and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service says it is not planning to fill the position because the agency doesn’t expect to be in charge of wolves after legal steps have been made to take wolves out of the hands of federal managers.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife coordinator Mike Jimenez worked as the Northern Rockies wolf management and science coordinator and Wyoming recovery program manager.

Mike Thabault, Fish and Wildlife’s assistant regional director for ecological services, said the agency is going to manage wolves in a way that helps local residents, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported (http://bit.ly/1XgKsYu).

The agency says routine wolf management will continue, including working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services on livestock issues.

“[Jimenez], he was a unique guy,” Thabault said. “He really kept a lid on wolf stuff in Wyoming, for sure.”

But because legislation has been drafted and lawsuits filed to take wolves out of the hands of federal managers, “we’re not quite sure U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is going to be in the wolf business long term,” Thabault said.

“We’re going to be doing the work that we’d do with a federally managed species in the state of Wyoming,” Thabault said. “We’re tracking, to the extent that we can track wolves, on the landscape.”

Wolves in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon are managed by those states. But in Wyoming, the wolves are managed by the federal government because of a 2014 federal judge’s ruling that found fault with Wyoming’s plan to deal with minimum wolf numbers.

The state now investigates livestock issues, and if problems are attributed to wolves, they are turned over to the federal government.

Jimenez was an advocate for wolves, and he said previously that he had a special relationship with the animals.

“I usually talk to them and tell them to stay away from livestock—stick to elk and deer,” Jimenez said. “We have a kind of man-to-man talk before we let them go.”

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