U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy will decide whether Congress acted within Constitutional bounds when it delisted wolves in parts of the West. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has filed notice of its intent to appeal any decision that adversely affects states’ rights to manage fully recovered wolf populations.
Molloy is expected to hear arguments soon from animal rights groups and environmental groups who sued to challenge the legality of Congress’ recent action.
An unfavorable ruling could stop wolf management hunts planned for fall in Idaho and Montana–even though elk calf survival rates in some areas are already too low to sustain herds for the future.
“We are protecting our right to appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals any decision that results in another setback for conservation and science-based wildlife management,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Our notice of intent to appeal includes a motion to stay any unfavorable outcome pending our appeal process.”
As he did with other conservation groups, Molloy recently denied an RMEF motion to intervene in the lawsuit. At least two groups filed a second motion asking the judge to reconsider. RMEF opted for a different response.
“We’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” explained Allen. “A decision could go either way because the laws being challenged leave too much to interpretation. This built-in gray area is the inherent problem with federal rulemaking on wildlife that is not endangered or threatened. All the science shows that wolves are recovered. But as long as the federal government is involved, there will be more lawsuits and, potentially, more unfavorable rulings. The new motion we filed prepares us for that scenario.”
“We will continue to fight until all states, from the Rockies to the Great Lakes, have true state management authority unfettered with federal oversight,” he added.
RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.9 million acres–a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. For more information visit www.rmef.org or 800-CALLELK.