June 5, 2009
Gray wolves are headed back to the court room after animal rights groups filed suit in Missoula, Mont., against a recent government decision removing wolves from the Endangered Species List (ESL). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) removed the wolves from the ESL on April 2, turning the management of the wolves over to the states.
This marks the second time that the delisting decision over the removal of federal protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains has been challenged. Animal rights groups successfully sued to get the protections reinstated in July 2008.
As of December 2008, the FWS estimated there were 1,645 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, with another 500 to 1,000 pups born this spring. The federally required minimum for the same region is 300.
"The goal is to never have a population below at least 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs per state" explained Ed Bangs with the FWS.
The wolves remain under federal control in Wyoming after a federal court ruled that Wyoming's wolf management plan leaves wolves in jeopardy.