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09/10/2009

First Wolf Hunt in Decades Begins

Last week, the first legal wolf hunt in decades in the continental US began in Idaho.  Next week, it will begin in Montana.  Before November is over 295 wolves could be killed between the two states.  In April, the Obama administration chose to uphold a Bush administration delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.  That decision did not apply to Wyoming, however, because their state management plan for the wolf was deemed unacceptable.  But management of the species has reverted to the states in the case of Idaho and Montana despite the fact the wolf population across the northern Rockies is slightly less than 1600 individuals, not yet a sustainable population.

Gray wolf

Since the gray wolf's reintroduction to the region in the mid-90s, they have thrived as a species and begun to reestablish their ecological niche as a top predator.  To begin hunting them now, before their population has reach a sustainable level, is premature and detrimental to years of hard work.

Although a judge denied our request for an injunction that would have halted the hunting, we are encouraged by his ruling.  It hinted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may have violated the Endangered Species Act when removing protections for wolves in the northern Rockies.  The Sierra Club, and several other environmental groups, are continuing to fight the wolf delisting decision in court.

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