As you likely remember, the wolf was officially taken off the endangered species list on March 28 of this year. Since then over 40 wolves have been killed.
Last week, despite much protest against the idea, Idaho’s Fish and Game commission increased the number of wolves that may be killed in the state from 328 to 428. This is from the state’s total population of 700 wolves.
Meanwhile, in response to the request from a consortium of environmental groups to put the Rocky Mountain gray wolf back under Federal protection and to stop the killing, the feds tried to delay a hearing on the matter. But U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy went ahead and set the hearing on the request anyway, saying he was “unwilling to risk more deaths.” The hearing on the request for an injunction to stop the wolf hunting will be held tomorrow, May 29, in Missoula, Montana.
Yesterday, Salon magazine ran an interesting article by Katharine Mieszkowski on the issue of taking the gray wolf off the endangered species list called Killing the Wolves Again.
Mieszkowski opens with the story of the well-known wolf from Yellowstone’s Druid pack nicknamed Limpy because of an injured leg, who was killed the first day the ban on hunting was lifted.
Here’s a clip from the rest of Mieszkowski’s article:
….The wave of killing has raised the absurd specter that while the United States spent millions to bring wolves back to the region in the name of conservation, and to restore a fraction of the West to its former wildness, now the wolves will be slaughtered again. On April 28, a coalition of 12 environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, filed suit in federal court against the Bush administration, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove protections for the animals. The lawsuit contends that because the wolves occupy several distinct areas, there’s not enough genetic diversity within the small number to ensure the wolf’s future. The states’ hunting policies will likely drive down that number even further.
“The states legally could kill down to a total of 300 wolves,” says Doug Honnold, a lawyer for Earthjustice, lead attorney on the case. “We could have 1,200 wolves killed before the federal government would say relisting this population is appropriate. People have worked so hard to promote wolf recovery, and just as we have victory within our grasp, or approaching our grasp, we’re throwing it away and heading in the opposite direction.”
More after the hearing.
UPDATE #1: Hoping to head off any injunctions from federal Judge Malloy on Thursday, Wyoming Fish and Game set a conservative hunting quota of 25 wolves per year inside the state’s so-called trophy game zone. This compromise approach, limiting the kills to 8 percent of Wyoming’s wolf population, was quite different from the loathsome, in-your-face-screw-you-and-your-wolf-hugging quota set by Idaho F & G which (as noted above) set its quota at 428 kills—or 61 percent of its wolf population.
Now it remains to be seen what Judge Malloy will do.