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Courts Reinstate Protection for Wolves in the Northern Rockies

July 22, 2008.

A federal judge has restored endangered species protection for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, putting a halt to legal wolf hunting in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and derailing plans to hold public wolf hunts in the fall.

It was widely expected that the delisting of the Northern Rockies wolf populations would meet legal challenges.

The preliminary injunction, issued by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Friday July 18, temporarily reinstates protection for wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act protection.

The case Molloy ruled on was brought by a group of non-hunting conservation groups. Molloy found merit in their arguments that delisting would "undeniably reduce the chances for future genetic exchange" between the wolf populations in the three states, violating a key criteria for delisting under the Endangered Species Act.

While wolf biologists remain convinced of the scientific merit of the original delisting, government attorneys are still reviewing the legal merits of Molloy's court order and will decide next week whether to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

For more info, see this article in the Casper Star-Tribune.

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