Rocky Mountain Wolves Defended By Judge But Endangered By Congress


Photo credit: USFWS Endangered Species via Flickr/CC BY

The fight over wolf management in Western states took another twist Saturday when a federal judge in Montana denied an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 10 conservation groups that would have removed endangered species protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho. This decision came after Sen. Mike Simpson of Idaho appears to have been successful in his attempt to delist wolves when he included language to do so in the budget deal reached Friday night. At issue in the court decision was the right for states to take over management of the wolf population, a power that has been held by the federal government. Had the settlement gone forward, the judge, Donald Molloy, said that public hunting would have allowed for the killing of about 1,300 wolves, which are recovering their population after being hunted nearly out of existence.

The Idaho legislature recently approved a bill that would give Gov. Otter the power to establish a state of emergency because of the rising wolf population. Otter has not signaled that he will sign the bill and he is said to be reviewing his legal options. A similar bill has been proposed in Montana.

So for now, it appears, the Rocky Mountain wolf will again be hunted, with states individually dealing with their management. Political boundaries like state lines don't mean much to wolves, so it appears that wolves are again on the run for their lives right when they were getting their footing.

More on wolves:
Proposed Bill Would Allow Nationwide Elimination of Wolves