The Lewiston Tribune Online
A federal judge in Montana has ruled that gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming be returned to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Judge Donald Molloy of Montana ruled Friday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner when it removed wolves in the Northern Rockies Region from the endangered species list in March.
He agreed with arguments made by environmental and animal rights groups that wolf populations in Yellowstone National Park do not yet interbreed with wolves in Idaho and western Montana to an extent that ensures genetic diversity. He also ruled the agency approved Wyoming’s state wolf management plan last year despite previously saying the basic tenants of that plan that allow wolves to be killed without regulation in 90 percent of the state, was inadequate to protect wolves. Lastly, Molloy ruled the groups proved that wolves were likely to be harmed by public hunting seasons planned in each state this fall.
Molloy granted a preliminary injunction reversing the delisting of wolves while the entire case is being heard and also said the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in a majority of their claims.
The ruling is a set back for the Fish and Wildlife Service that has said wolves are biologically recovered and decided earlier this year that adequate state regulations were in place to keep the wolves from becoming imperilled. There are estimated to be about 2,000 wolves in the three states and about 800 in Idaho.