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Eye On Boise

Fri., July 18, 2008, 4:35 p.m.

Judge orders federal wolf protections restored

Here’s a bulletin from the AP:

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - A federal judge in Montana has ordered gray wolves in the Northern Rockies be returned to the endangered species list. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction Friday, restoring federal protections for the wolves. The predator was removed from the endangered species list in March, following a decade-long restoration effort. Environmentalists sued to overturn the decision. Officials in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have been moving forward with plans for public hunts. Molloy's ruling is expected to derail those plans. The region has an estimated 2,000 wolves, a population that has been soaring and increasingly preying on livestock.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains were removed from the federal endangered species list on March 28, and Idaho’s Fish & Game Department stepped in to manage Idaho’s wolf population, which now numbers more than 700. Wolves were reintroduced to the region about 13 years ago, when 66 gray wolves were released in central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. Today, they number 1,500 in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, according to Idaho Fish & Game.

With the wolves coming off the endangered species list this spring, Idaho enacted a law allowing people to kill wolves to protect livestock or domestic animals. No permit is required for such killings, but they’re required to be reported to Fish & Game within 72 hours. The state also has been working on plans for wolf hunts as part of its overall plan to manage the gray wolf as a big game species. None of that was permitted under the federal endangered species listing. Gov. Butch Otter said earlier that he’d like to bid on the chance to be the first to shoot a wolf when Idaho opens its first wolf-hunting season.

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