08/12/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, USA // Tara Monks // Tara Monks
Livingston, MT – A federal judge ruled the Obama administration’s decision to remove wolves in the Northern Rockies from the endangered species list was illegal on Thursday, August 5, 2010. The Natural Resources Defense Council issued a press release announcing the judge’s decision to end plans for expanded wolf hunts that were set to begin in September.
Northern Rockies wolves were taken off the endangered species list in April 2009, but retained endangered status in Wyoming. The judge used this fact as the basis for his ruling, stating that conditions for delisting a species must be present for the entire population, not just within certain states.
NRDC, along with 13 other conservation groups were represented by Earthjustice in the lawsuit. They sued the federal government for removing the wolves from the endangered species list before their population was completely rebuilt.
Federal District Judge Donald Molloy decided the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acted illegally by removing wolves from the list in Idaho and Montana while leaving them on the list in Wyoming. The judge said the population split was based on political, rather than biological, lines. He clarified, “The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list only part of a species as endangered.”
According to the NRDC press release, “tens of thousands of gray wolves once roamed North America before being slaughtered and eliminated from most of the entire lower-48 states by the 1930s. The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1974.”
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