I’ve blogged a fair bit about the ill-advised delisting of gray wolves as endangered species in the northern Rockies, as well as about the lawsuit that followed. When last we left the story, the district court had denied a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the wolf hunts that subsequently took place in Montana and Idaho. The judge did indicate, though, that the plaintiffs had a strong chance of prevailing on the merits (the standard for a preliminary injunction is formidably high, as discussed here).
Well, the plaintiffs have indeed prevailed on the merits. The short skinny is that when the government delisted the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho (which ostensibly had wolf management plans) but not in Wyoming, it divided a distinct and protected population segment in contravention of the Endangered Species Act. According to the court’s ruling, the wolf must either be delisted across all 3 states (not currently possible given Wyoming’s lack of a plan) or listed in all 3. So, for right now, it’s the latter.
This is good news but must be tempered with realism. Appeals will likely follow, although the law seems pretty clear here and I would expect the plaintiffs to prevail on appeal as well. However, all that has to happen to put the wolf back in peril is for Wyoming to craft a management plan. And, as we saw with Montana and Idaho, that plan can include hunting.
But that’s still at least a little ways off. Furthermore, Wyoming’s plan will likewise be subject to challenge. For now, we can hope that Governor Otter of Idaho will have to find something else to do than shoot this particular species of defenseless animal — at least for the near future.
h/t Daily Kos
Filed under: animal advocacy, animal law, endangered species, environmental law, hunting, wolves Tagged: | animal advocacy, animal law, animal welfare, Butch Otter, endangered species, Endangered Species Act, environmental advocacy, environmental law, environmentalism, gray wolf, hunting, Idaho, Montana, preliminary injunctions, wolf hunting, wolves, Wyoming