Conservation Groups Challenge Courts To Protect Wolves
Three conservation groups filed an appeal on Friday with the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals challenging Congress on their budget bill that stripped more than 1,500 wolves in Idaho and Montana of federal Endangered Species Act protection.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and Cascadia Wildlands filed their appeal days after U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reluctantly ruled that Congress was within their constitutional rights to use a bill about finance as a backdoor method to take away protection for the wolves.
The legislation effected wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, including Montana, Idaho, eastern Oregon and Washington and northern Utah.
The Baltimore Sun said, “It was the first time an animal had been delisted by a political process rather than scientific review.”
“Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains should be managed by science, not political meddling by Congress,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity said in a press release.
“This appeal is aimed at restoring needed protections to wolves in these states. Although numbers have risen, the job of wolf recovery is far from complete.”
Judge Molloy made it clear that he disapproved of the “budget rider” used by Congress, but felt he had to uphold the action because of a previous case that set precedence.
Even with Judge Molloy’s ruling the three activist organizations believe they will be able to demonstrate that Congress violated their authority.
“The wolf rider is a clear example of overreaching by Congress that resulted in the wrongful removal of protections for wolves,” said Josh Laughlin, campaign director with Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene, Ore.
“Wolves continue to be threatened by human intolerance and persecution — the very factors that resulted in their extinction across most of the United States,” said Jon Marvel, executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “Until there is more tolerance for wolves, they will continue to need protection.”
With protections lifted, states like Idaho have authorized a hunting-and-trapping season with no limit on how many wolves can be killed. They are only required to maintain 150 wolves out of an estimated population of 1,000.
Wolves in the western Rockies were nearly wiped out due to hunting, trapping and poisoning. After an extensive program was implemented to grow the population, nearly 100 were reintroduced to the region in the mid-1990s.
Today there are an estimated 1,000 in Idaho, 566 in Montana, only 25 in Oregon and 30 in Washington.
Is this really a large enough population to remove them from the protection provided by the Endangered Species Act?
Photo from dennis matheson via flickr.