What's Next For Wolves After Court Decision

Mar 15, 2012

BOISE, Idaho -- The wolf hunt in Idaho will continue through June in part of the state. That’s because Wednesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Congress’s decision to strip federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana. Aaron Kunz has reaction to the decision.

The federal appeals court ruled that Congress did not violate the law when it ended federal protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians argued that Congress bypassed the courts by delisting the gray wolf in only two states.

Jay Tutchton, the attorney representing WildEarth Guardians, says the conservation groups are now weighing their options.

 “The groups that want to protect wolves are not going away. They will just have to pursue some different methods to get their arguments heard.”

Tutchton says the conservation groups could challenge the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. But he says they are more likely to petition the federal government to re-list the wolf under the Endangered Species Act, based on new science.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson co-sponsored the bill last year. He praised the decision by the appeals court. Simpson says it’s critical that states have the power to decide how to deal with wolves within their borders.

“I think it’s states that can best manage the wolves and that's why I think this decision that allows us to go forward with state management is a good decision.”

Idaho’s plan for managing wolves was approved by the federal government. It’s not as restrictive as federal protections for wolves in other states, but it still limits harm to the species. Simpson singled out a state bill this year that would have allowed hunters to use live bait to lure wolves and to hunt them from the air. The sponsor dropped the bill because of concerns that its passage could risk Idaho’s ability to manage wolves.

So far there have been 353 wolves killed in Idaho and 166 wolves killed in Montana. Idaho’s wolf hunt continues until June 30 in the northern panhandle.