Environmental activist groups went to federal court on Tuesday seeking to restore endangered species status for some 1,200 gray wolves in Montana and Idaho that were removed from protection by an act of Congress.
The groups say Congress exceeded its authority by intervening in an ongoing court case to remove the wolves from the endangered species list without amending the underlying law and by presuming to exclude its action from judicial review. The wolf advocates want the rider declared unconstitutional and the gray wolf returned to federal protection in Montana and Idaho.
Government lawyers, however, said the delisting effectively amended the Endangered Species Act by making a special exemption for wolf populations in the Rockies.
Congress approved a budget bill in April that contained a provision to remove endangered species status from the gray wolf.
The hearing before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula comes as Idaho and Montana prepare for fall hunts. Molloy has twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators. Now he is being asked to consider whether Congress violated the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution with legislation crafted to circumvent his earlier rulings.
Molloy promised a prompt decision in the case.
Wolves were also taken off the endangered species list in Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Reprinted in part from Reuters