Breaking News: Federal Judge Re-Lists Western Wolves, Ends Hunting

If you follow fieldandstream.com, you know the recent saga of the western wolf. More than four years ago, we began … Continued

If you follow fieldandstream.com, you know the recent saga of the western wolf. More than four years ago, we began covering the long battle to remove the predators from the Endangered Species list and allow hunting seasons in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. From the spring of 2008 through the summer of 2009, we covered Idaho’s off-again, on-gain hunting season. “It’s time to take a collective sigh,” said Idaho Fish and Game director Cal Groen when the season was finally approved. “This is history.”

In a September 2009 special report, we detailed the opening-day success story of fieldandstream.com poster Robert Millage (known on our site as idahooutdoors). Millage was the first hunter to harvest a wolf in the new season.

For another year-plus, we covered the hunt’s fallout–including Boise wolf-advocate Rick Hobson’s website posting of the names of 122 wolf hunters, the resulting harassment, and the state legislature’s move to protect hunter identities.

In March 2010 the magazine published “Predator and Prey,” Field Editor Keith McCafferty’s in-depth report on the controversy over the wolf hunt, detailing Millage’s experience and his newfound status of hero to some, villain to others.

Now, the saga continues.

Last night, Millage sent us an email: “Well, so much for letting wildlife managers do their jobs. Now we are back to letting wolves breed and spread at will.” He was commenting on this breaking news from The Idaho Statesman:

_A federal judge ruled Thursday against the Obama administration and returned wolves in the Rocky Mountains to the Endangered Species List.

That means that hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana will not be allowed to continue. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy said leaving wolves listed as endangered in Wyoming while delisting them in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington and northern Utah violates the Endangered Species Act.

“The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list only part of a “species” as endangered, or to protect a listed distinct population segment only in part as the Final Rule here does,” Malloy wrote. Idaho’s wolf hunting season could have begun as soon as Aug. 30._

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation immediately responded by calling on congress to review and reform the language of the ESA to allow Idaho and Montana’s state wildlife agencies to continue to manage their wolf populations. “When federal statutes and judges actually endorse the annihilation of big-game herds, livestock, rural and sporting lifestyles–and possibly even compromise human safety–then clearly the Endangered Species Act as currently written has major flaws,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We have already begun contacting the Congressional delegations of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming to ask for an immediate review of this travesty–and reform of the legislation that enabled it.”

Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland said that the “ruling means that until Wyoming brings its wolf management program into alignment with those of Idaho and Montana, the wolf will remain under the protection of the Endangered Species Act throughout the northern Rocky Mountains.” Which means, for now, the hunt is off. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage.