Feds Want Rockies Wolves Back on Endangered List
Federal wildlife officials have asked a judge to put endangered gray wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list, which goes against the government's previous ruling that the animals were thriving.
The wolves were back on the list, but have since been taken off again.
Attorneys for the Fish and Wildlife Service asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula to vacate the agency's February finding that more than 1,400 wolves in the region no longer needed federal protection.
The government's request Monday follows a July injunction in which Molloy had blocked plans for public wolf hunts this fall in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists.
"What we want to do is look at this more thoroughly," Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Sharon Rose said. "We definitely have a lot of wolves out there, but we need to address some of [Molloy's] concerns in a way that people feel comfortable with."
At issue is whether a decade-long wolf restoration program has reversed the near-extermination of wolves, or if — as environmentalists claim — their long-term survival remains in doubt due to proposed hunting.
"This hit everybody really cold," said John Bloomquist, an attorney for the Montana Stockgrowers Association. "All of a sudden the federal defendants are going in the other direction."
It is considered a victory for environmental groups when the government is considering going back to the drawing board and putting the wolves back on the list.
Wolves are being killed by residents of the areas as well, because they are attacking their livestock. About 180 wolves were killed last year.