The federal government may be forced to commit the ultimate act of cruelty to the wolves it brought from Canada to Idaho and Wyoming - hunt them down and kill them, a lawyer for a group opposing the program said Friday.
“The government rushed to judgment on these wolves,” William Pendley, president of Mountain States Legal Foundation, said at a news conference.
The foundation and other organizations tried unsuccessfully to block the wolf recovery program in federal court.
The groups couldn’t get their injunction, but the lawsuit is continuing. U.S. District Judge William Downes in Cheyenne, Wyo., did hold out the possibility that the program could eventually be ruled illegal.
Government officials have admitted the wolves cannot be returned to Canada, said Pendley, who also spoke at a breakfast in Spokane.
The judge “essentially will have to order the execution of the wolf if he finds the government has violated the law,” he said.
Supporters of the wolf recovery program have said the public overwhelmingly supports the effort. Pendley replied Friday that “polls can show whatever you want them to show.”
Pendley has written a book on people who challenge environmental regulations and is the lead attorney on another case that takes on the federal government. Mountain States is questioning the federal practice of awarding highway contracts to companies owned by minorities or women, even if they are not the lowest bidder.
Such affirmative action policies discriminate against white males, the organization contends.
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, which involves a contract to install guardrails on a federal highway.
The court ruled in 1990 that Congress could require preferential treatment for minorities in the awarding of broadcast licenses. That will likely lead to more diverse programming, which will benefit the public, the court said.
The government can’t make the same claim for highway contracts, Pendley said.
“There’s no relationship between the race of the guardrail installer and the guardrail,” he said.