Gray wolves are back on the endangered list
Gray wolves have been put back on the endangered species list.
For these reasons, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction (dkt #2) is GRANTED. Endangered Species Act protections are hereby reinstated for the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf pending final resolution of this matter on the merits.
Dated this 18 day of July, 2008, 16:04 p.m.
Wolves were removed from the endangered species list this past March, but environmentalists fought to have the decision overturned..
The region has an estimated 2,000 gray wolves. They were removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort.
Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision, arguing wolf numbers would plummet if hunting were allowed. They sought the injunction in the hopes of stopping the hunts and allowing the wolf population to continue expanding.
"There were fall hunts scheduled that would call for perhaps as many as 500 wolves to be killed. We're delighted those wolves will be saved," said attorney Doug Honnold with Earthjustice, who had argued the case before Molloy on behalf of 12 environmental groups.
Since the wolves are now protected again, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana will have to hold off on their public wolf hunt this year.
A federal judge has restored protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, derailing plans by three states to hold public wolf hunts this fall.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Montana, granted a preliminary injunction late Friday restoring federal protection for wolves in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
Molloy will eventually decide whether the injunction should be permanent.
Early settlers had eradicated wolves from the area, but in the mid-1990s the federal government reintroduced 66 animals as part of a controversial program.
The argument concludes with the claim that a preliminary injunction is necessary because wolves are not likely to survive the increased incidents of human-caused
mortality that will occur under state management.
Those who supported the decision last March to remove them from the list could possibly appeal this new ruling.
Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who led the wolf restoration program, defended the decision to delist the northern Rockies wolves as "a very biologically sound package."
"The kind of hunting proposed by the states wouldn't threaten the wolf population," Bangs said.
"We felt the science was rock solid and that the delisting was warranted."
Bangs said government attorneys were reviewing Molloy's court order and would decide next week whether to file with the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Federal and state officials had argued killing some wolves would not endanger the overall population—as long as numbers did not dip below 300 individuals.
With increasing conflicts between wolves and livestock, officials said, public hunts were crucial to keeping the predators' population in check.
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