May 30, 2008
May 30, 2008 - The fate of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies is now in the hands of a federal judge in Montana, after advocacy groups argued in court Thursday that the animal's recovery is threatened by their recent removal from federal protection.
Wyoming, Montana and Idaho plan public hunts for the region's 1,500 wolves this fall - the first in more than three decades. Environmental and animals rights groups filed a lawsuit in April seeking to restore federal authority over the animals.
On Thursday, the groups asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy for an injunction to block the planned hunts while the case is pending. An injunction also would effectively suspend state laws that give property owners more latitude to kill wolves when they attack or approach livestock.
Attorneys for the federal government, the three states and several hunting and sporting groups countered that the region's surging wolf population makes some killings inevitable. As wolves fill remote wilderness and move into more populated areas, livestock conflicts have grown sharply in recent years.
It's been six years since the number of wolves in the region hit the original benchmark set for recovery - 300 wolves and at least 30 breeding pairs. Molloy said he would issue a ruling on the injunction soon but did not give a date. Reprinted in part from Salt Lake Tribune