Volume 8, Number 11 - June 5, 2008
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Both Sides Of Wolf Suit Await Judge’s Word
After hearing both sides during last Thursday’s court hearing for a preliminary injunction to protect wolves from hunting while their delisted status is being contested, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy was expected to rule some time this week.
Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold, representing a dozen conservation groups, argued in the hearing that Northern Rockies’ wolf population’s recovery is threatened by its predatory status in most of Wyoming and by licensed hunting seasons proposed for Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, according to the Associated Press.
Attorneys for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other defendants argued the growing wolf populationis already five times the FWS recovery goal for delisting (which itself was met in 2002) and that “badw olves” which can be killed aren’t needed as part of the recovery population, AP reported May 30.
The hearing was held in Missoula, Montana, in U.S. District Court where the suit and injunction request were filed April 28, exactly one month after wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species Act and went under state management in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
FWS Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator Ed Bangs said this week he attended the hearing, which lasted about two and a half hours, as “the only non-legal person at the front tables.”
Honnold was given 30 minutes to argue and 10 minutes for a rebuttal, he said.
“Montana and Idaho got 10 minutes and Wyoming 15 minutes as the judge had some ‘issues’ he wanted to discuss with Wyoming,” Bangs said.
Anattorney for the state of Montana asked Judge Molloy to separate the state from the enjoinment “because Montana doesn’t have all the Wyoming and Idaho issues,” Bangs added.
“(The) judge asked good questions and showed he had read everything pretty thoroughly,” he said. “I’ve not a clue how he will rule but he did think about split ruling – not enjoin one or two of the states. Both his clerks were present and he said he’d decide asap. I suspect his ruling on the (preliminary injunction) will indicate how the merits (of the lawsuit against delisting) are being looked at.”
Earthjustice Jenny Harbine said Tuesday, “I don’t have any forecasts, but we will provide a comment once we get a ruling, which could come any time in the next couple of weeks.”
An injunction would in effect return gray wolves to their former “endangered” listing under FWS’ Endangered Species Act.
Itwas briefly mentioned in the G&F weekly wolf update for May 23-30.
“A federal judge in Montana heard arguments on May 29 related to a challenge to wolf delisting in the Northern Rocky Mountains,” the update reported. “Specifically, plaintiffs in the case were requesting an injunction to suspend delisting and state management of wolves in the region.”
In the mean time, all three states are planning hunting seasons. Wyoming Game and Fish recently announced its proposal for a limited-quota wolf-hunting season in the state’s northwest corner, designated a trophy-game management area in the state’s plan.
AG&F public information meetingis scheduled for June 10 at 7 p.m. at the Pinedale library to discuss trapping, mountain lion seasons and wolf hunting seasons. Another meeting will be held in Jackson June 12 at 7 p.m. at the Antler Inn.
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