Montana and Idaho can continue with plans for fall wolf hunts after a federal judge refused to overturn the law allowing it.


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A federal judge refused on Wednesday to overturn an unprecedented act of Congress that removed some 1,500 wolves in Montana and Idaho from the endangered species list. District Judge Donald Molloy sided against environmentalists who argued Congress exceeded its authority when it passed legislation in April to lift federal wolf protections, giving the two states largely unfettered control over the animals. The decision by Molloy allows Montana and Idaho to carry on with plans to open both states to extensive hunting of the iconic animals as a way of reducing their numbers to levels they see as better balanced with human interests. Wyoming on Wednesday also moved a step closer to joining Montana and Idaho in seeing its 300-plus wolves removed from Endangered Species Act safeguards.
“It looks like there will be a lot of wolf killing now,” said Michael Garrity, director of WildEarth Guardians, a Montana-based conservation group. “If we do appeal the ruling, I hope we can get the case resolved in favor of wolves before the vast majority are killed in the Northern Rockies.” Wolves have been at the center of a bitter debate since they were reintroduced to the region in the mid-1990s over the objections of ranchers and commercial outfitters, who said the animals prey on cattle and compete with hunters for elk._