Conservationists ask court to stop Idaho, Montana wolf hunts

SALMON, Idaho Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:58pm EDT

Related Topics

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Conservation groups on Saturday asked a federal appellate court to stop upcoming hunts in Montana and Idaho that target more than 1,000 wolves.

In the request for an emergency injunction, filed electronically to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, environmentalists argued that the planned hunting and trapping will cause irreparable harm to a wolf population slated to be reduced by 69 percent, dropping to 496 from 1,566.

The petition by Alliance for the Wild Rockies and others comes as Montana is reporting brisk sales to hunters of wolf permits and Idaho on August 30 opens a wolf season that sanctions neck snares, foothold traps and luring wolves with electronic calls that imitate other wolves and injured prey.

"Idaho and Montana have set hunting seasons that will decimate wolves in the Northern Rockies," Michael Garrity, head of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, told Reuters.

Fewer than 100 wolves were reintroduced to the region by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the mid-1990s after hunting, trapping and poisoning campaigns drove the predator to the edge of extinction. Ranchers and hunters opposed the restoration, arguing wolves would prey on livestock and game such as elk.

As wolf numbers climbed, Northern Rocky Mountain states pushed to have wolves stripped of protections under the Endangered Species Act so that populations could be cut by public hunting in addition to lethal control measures by government agents.

The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed, but efforts in recent years to take wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming off the list of threatened and endangered species were blocked by environmentalists' legal challenges.

Wolves in Idaho and Montana were delisted this year in a provision attached to a stopgap budget bill approved by Congress in April. It was the first time an animal had been delisted through a political process rather than scientific review.

The two states crafted hunting seasons as conservation groups unsuccessfully argued before U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Montana that Congress had violated the constitutional separation of powers among branches of government by intervening in an ongoing legal dispute.

In his August 3 ruling, Molloy sided with attorneys for the Obama administration, who argued that Congress had effectively amended the Endangered Species Act even though lawmakers sponsoring the provision strongly denied at the time they were tampering with the nation's landmark conservation law.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies and others on Monday asked the Ninth Circuit to overturn the ruling by Molloy, who wrote that his hands were tied by a prior Ninth Circuit decision which found Congress did not overstep its bounds when it amended law by implication rather than separate legislation.

Environmentalists are now asking the Ninth Circuit to temporarily halt wolf hunts pending the court's decision on the appeal of Molloy's ruling. The overall aim of conservationists is to restore federal safeguards to wolves.

An Obama administration spokesman on Saturday declined comment on the latest twist in the long-running legal battle over wolves.

Protections are still in place for the 343 wolves in Wyoming. Under a deal brokered this month between the Fish and Wildlife Service and Governor Matt Mead, wolves in that state may be delisted and open for hunting as early as next fall.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (10)
elkriverres wrote:
Where were the conservationists when this non-traditional was introduced (not re-intoduced)? The American Timber Wolf has been destroyed by the Canadian Great Grey. Elk and deer populations can’t sustain this impact. I can’t keep a dog at my house because the wolves kill them. If I put a skunk in their yard they would soon have animal control deal with it. I don’t want the wolves eliminated but there must be some control other than irresponsible government and people with bleeding hearts. They should watch an elk, moose or deer being disembowled and savaged by wolves for “the fun of it”.

Aug 14, 2011 1:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kaceltd wrote:
There is always confrontational pressures between the needs of humans and animal populations. As the top predator on the planet, it is our duty to engage in the sustainable stewardship of nature. While man will not be classified as a ‘pest’, please use common sense and sustainable scientific rationale to cull ‘animal’ populations.

I am an admirer of the Grey Wolf. Rome was supposedly founded by Romulus and Remus who were raised by a she-wolf……..

Aug 14, 2011 6:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
zookeeper007 wrote:
The Timber Wolf’s ranger was all of North America. Elk and deer populations were decimated by over hunting and turning too much wilderness into farmlands with no breaks for wild life.

They were her first. It isn’t their fault the humans are sprawling everywhere with out thought to all the animals who rely on open spaces.

I deal with Mountain Lions, Coyotes, porcupines, deer etc… I do so safely and gratefully. I encroached on their space not the other way around. I chose to live here, they didn’t ask me to come here.
The government was working on effective means to keep predators in certain areas not widely populated..however when the republicans held unemployment benefits hostage this past year one of the casualties was taking wolves off the endangered list and cutting funding for measures to keep them in remote areas.

Nature is nature. We haven’t shown much more regard than wolves “disemboweling” prey. For them its a matter of survival and learning…for us its sport.

Where do you think all that meat in the supermarket comes from? (with exception to the small operations who are in the very small minority)Cows are raised in small over crowded areas, fed a diet not natural to them that causes irritation and pain to their digestive system to force them to gain weight, then shot through the skull and brains with a high velocity air gun. The shot may or may not hit its mark the first time and actually dispatch the cow.
Poultry? They are raised in tiny spaces and then slung upside down, dragged through electrified water to stun them and then partially decapitated as they head for a machine that rips off all their feathers. The poultry may or may not be dead even after the machine…not much better than the ole wolf huh? Its even worse for pigs, veal and lambs. So before you vilify one species…you might want to look at the devastation this species has wrought.
Being a hunter, and having come from a farming background, I believe in a quick and humane end and respect to your prey. Conservation management. Care and forethought of any raised animal crop.
These wolves deserve more respect from us.

Aug 14, 2011 7:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.