March 24, 2011
By MATT VOLZ
MISSOULA, Mont. — Ten conservation groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asked a federal judge Thursday to approve their plan to lift endangered species protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, effectively reversing his previous rulings on the matter.
But four other conservation groups who splintered from the plaintiffs told U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy the proposed settlement is driven by politics, not science, and will hurt the species before it has fully recovered.
“If the settlement agreement is entered, one thing is clear: hundreds of wolves will die,” said Jay Tutchton, attorney for two of the groups.
Molloy said he would rule soon on whether to recommend the proposed deal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the case since Molloy ruled for the plaintiffs last August and the federal government appealed.
If he does recommend it, or says it raises serious questions, the appellate court would then remand the case back to Molloy and he would make a final ruling.