Wolf Hunts Still On--For Now
MISSOULA--Earlier this week, a federal district court issued an order finding that the delisting of Idaho and Montana wolves is more than likely illegal, but didn't stop wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.
In the ruling, the court stated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove protections from wolves in Northern Rockies while retaining protections for Wyoming wolves appeared to be “a practical determination that does not seem to be scientifically based.”
The court failed to stop the hunts because it held that a single hunting season at these levels in Idaho and Montana would not “irreparably harm” the wolf population as a whole.
The order came just 10 days after Idaho’s wolf-hunting season opened on September 1 in two of the state’s 12 hunting units. Montana's season is set to open September 15. Idaho officials authorized the killing of 220 wolves in a wolf hunt, which represents 25 percent of the last official Idaho wolf population estimate at the end of December 2008. Montana has authorized the take of 75 wolves in a wolf hunt, which is 15 percent of its last official wolf population estimate.
Under the challenged Federal wolf delisting rule, Idaho and Montana can lower the wolf population down to 150 per state – a potential loss of roughly two-thirds of the region’s wolves.