Molloy: Why protect wolves in Wyoming, but not Montana and Idaho?
By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian | Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 1:15 pm |
The fate of northern Rocky Mountain wolves returned to the courtroom on Tuesday, with both sides arguing about the proper way to tell when an endangered species has recovered.
“These are not normative questions about the goodness or badness of the decision-making,” U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy told the packed courtroom. Instead, he asked the attorneys to answer five questions about how the federal Endangered Species Act is affecting the gray wolf.
In particular, he wanted to know why Wyoming could be kept under federal control while Montana and Idaho were allowed state management of wolves. Molloy interrupted both sides frequently to ask about “subdividing” the distinct population segment boundary that marked wolf recovery habitat in the three states.
Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold spent much of his time arguing there was no good reason to cut Wyoming out of the herd.
“If you have a three-state recovery effort and one refuses to play ball, the only answer is to perpetually keep them listed or go back to the drawing board,” Honnold said. “All three states have been reluctant to take on their share of wolf recovery. We hope the (U.S.) Fish and Wildlife Service will go back to the drawing board and come up with something that would actually work.”
Montana attorney general’s representative Bob Lane flipped that argument on its head, saying the Endangered Species Act needs flexibility in order to work.
“Otherwise Wyoming in effect can maintain a kind of Senate filibuster if they maintain their position,” Lane said. “The wolf status would never change. Do you then draw another line with only Montana and Idaho? What purpose is that?”
The hearing was briefly interrupted just before 10 a.m. when a Stanford Legal Clinic student, Molly Knobler, collapsed at the lecturn while making part of the case for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. A bailiff cleared the courtroom while paramedics examined her, but she recovered and stayed through the rest of the hearing.
Attorneys for Montana and Idaho stressed how gray wolves would be better off under state management.
“There’s no harm to the species by leaving them listed in Wyoming, and there’s benefit to delisting them in Montana and Idaho,” Lane told Molloy. “It’s like a relay race. The states are the stronger runners, and its time for them to take the baton.”
Idaho attorney Steven Strack added there were strong examples where U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had split animal recovery efforts along state lines. In particular, he said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals okayed separate management plans for Arizona and California in the case of an endangered horned lizard that existed in both states.
Both men also argued that by declaring the wolf a big-game animal, their respective states had legally bound themselves to keeping the wolf healthy and recovered.
Molloy did not allow any rebuttal arguments, and promised he’d have a ruling “as quickly as I can.” The fate of this fall’s big-game wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho await the decision.
I take issue with this statement from the article:
“The fate of this fall’s big-game wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho await the decision.”
How about the well being and safety of Montana and Idaho wolves await the decision? Who cares about the big game blood lust hunts? And make no mistake about it. This is about money and demand from people who want to hunt wolves. Why else would the Safari Club be involved? It’s not about livestock, or Canadian wolves or tapeworms. Those excuses are smokescreens, the real issue is trophy hunting.
“……environmental groups say Fish and Wildlife has “run roughshod” over the Endangered Species Act and the states aren’t capable of protecting a viable wolf population.”
That says it all.
Posted in: Montana Wolves, Howling For Justice, Wolf Wars, Wolf Delisting Lawsuit
Tags: Judge Molloy, ESA, wolves in crossfire, Earthjustice