Listen To Oral Arguments On Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

The Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals Building, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Pasadena, California.

UPDATE: November 9, 2011

Only the audio is available, the video may be published at a later date.  Click on the title link below to listen.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies, et al. v. Ken Salazar, et al.

Thank you to  attorneys Jay Tutchton and Rebecca Smith, who represent Alliance For the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians,  for doing battle in court for wolves.  We appreciate your dedication and effort!! It was inspiring to hear you argue so passionately for wolves in front of the Ninth Circuit Justices, who posed tough question for both sides.

And now we wait!

“Peaceful Pro-Wolf protesters out front of the Pasadena court of appeals”…Mario G.

Wolf Dogs Represent For Their Wild Brothers


Top Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Bottom Photo: Courtesy Mario G.

Posted in: Wolf Delisting Lawsuit, Wolf Wars

Tags: Watch today’s court proceedings, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, oral arguments, Pasadena, stop brutal wolf hunts, request for emergency injunction

ALERT: Conservation Groups File Wolf Rider Appeal to the Ninth Circuit…

Conservation groups filed an appeal to the US Ninth Circuit, on September 8, 2011, challenging the constitutionality of the wolf delisting rider.  Leading the fight is Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians.  Center For Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project are also plaintiffs in the appeal.

Rider Appeal, Ninth Circuit Court, Opening Brief, Sept. 8, 2011

What impressed me about their opening brief was the introduction. It quotes the famed ecologist and environmentalist Aldo Leopold’s Thinking Like a Mountain, from A Sand County Almanac,  In his writing, Leopold introduces the concept of trophic cascades.

“The concept of a trophic cascade is put forth in the chapter “Thinking Like a Mountain”, wherein Leopold realizes that killing a predator wolf carries serious implications for the rest of the ecosystem.”


Thinking Like A Mountain

by Aldo Leopold

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddle horn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf’s job of trimming the herd to fit the
range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dust bowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.

We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness.The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes,and dollars, but it all comes to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau’s dictum:In wildness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.

ALDO LEOPOLD, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, AND SKETCHES HERE AND  THERE, Thinking Like a Mountain, at 129–133, Commemorative edition 1989, ©1949, Oxford University Press, Inc.


Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

Tags: US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, wolves in peril, wolf delisting rider

Wolf Decision Appealed To The Ninth Circuit By Conservation Groups….

For Immediate Release – Aug 8, 2011

Conservation Groups Appeal Federal District Court wolf decision

CONTACT:  Mike Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies 406-459-5936

“We still believe that Congress violated the U.S. Constitution when Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) used a rider to overturn the Federal Court’s decision,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.   “We will not allow the fate of endangered species to be determined by politicians serving special interests. These decisions must be based on science, not politics, and Congress has never before removed species from the Endangered Species list by political fiat.”

Citing the wording from Federal Judge Donald Molloy’s recent ruling, Garrity said the Alliance and it’s co-Plaintiffs, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians, have filed an Appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to preserve both wolves and the rule of law in the Northern Rockies.”

“Although ruling that he was bound by previous decisions by the Ninth Circuit Court, Judge Molloy was very direct in his opinions on the use of non-related riders on appropriation bills such as used by Senator Tester,” Garrity continued.  “Take, for example, these quotes directly from Molloy’s opinion.”

    •    “The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining, and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”

•    “Political decisions derive their legitimacy from the proper function of the political process within the constraints of limited government, guided by a constitutional structure that acknowledges the importance of the doctrine of Separation of Powers. That legitimacy is enhanced by a meaningful, predictable, and transparent process.”

•    “Inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient, but it transgresses the process envisioned by the Constitution by avoiding the very debate on issues of political importance said to provide legitimacy. Policy changes of questionable political viability, such as occurred here, can be forced using insider tactics without debate by attaching riders to legislation that must be passed.“

“We’re continuing this battle because Judge Molloy’s ruling fully supports our contention that there is a well-established legal process that applies to every other species and that pure political expediency should not be the driving force over which of our nation’s imperiled animals and plants will or will not be protected for future generations,” Garrity explained.

The groups charge in their complaint that the delisting rider, which was sponsored by Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson, violates the U.S. Constitution because it specifically repeals a judicial decision and then exempts it from judicial review.

“While Congress absolutely has the right to make and amend laws, the wolf delisting rider (Section 1713 of the budget law, PL 112-10) does not amend the Endangered Species Act — it circumvents the judicial process by ordering the reinstatement of the 2009 rule that delisted wolves,” Garrity continued.  “Moreover, by exempting it from judicial review it basically nullifies the Constitutional checks and balances between Congress and the Judicial Branch of government.”

“There’s little doubt that wolves are now facing drastic policies at the state level,’ Garrity said. “Wyoming has a ‘shoot on sight’ policy, Idaho just enacted a massive “open season’ that will kill hundreds of wolves and Montana announced it will allow up to 220 of the 566 wolves in the state to be killed this year – nearly half of the wolves to be shot by hunters and an unlimited amount to be killed by government trappers.”

“We are doing all we can to hold back the tide of wolf-killing in Montana, Idaho, and elsewhere in the Northern Rockies,” explained Garrity.  “This ecologically important species is being unfairly targeted out of ignorance and intolerance and now lack a federal shield from being killed.”

“But in the end, this is not just about wolves, it’s about the rule of law.  If Congress can exempt this decision from judicial review, it can likewise exempt anything it does.  That not only spells disaster for endangered species, but for our entire form of government.  Judge Molloy hit the nail on the head when he said Tester’s rider is “a talisman that ipso facto sweeps aside Separation of Powers concerns.”

“We agree with him,” concluded Garrity, pointing to Molloy’s conclusion that reads: “If I were not constrained by what I believe is binding precedent from the Ninth Circuit, and on-point precedent from other circuits, I would hold Section 1713 [Tester’s rider] is unconstitutional because it violates the Separation of Powers doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Klein.”

“We think, given the circumstances and the gravity of the Separation of Powers issue, that the Ninth Circuit will want to take a close look at the consequences of allowing Senator Tester’s unprecedented wolf rider to stand.  And we intend to give them that opportunity with our Appeal.”

Notice to file appeal: Click Here


Groups ask appeals court to restore wolf protections

Conservation groups asked an appeals court on Monday to strike down a move by Congress to strip more than 1,500 wolves in Idaho and Montana of federal endangered species protections.

 | August 8, 2011


By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – Conservation groups asked an appeals court on Monday to strike down a move by Congress to strip more than 1,500 wolves in Idaho and Montana of federal endangered species protections.

In a petition to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the groups sought to overturn a ruling last week by a federal judge that found Congress did not exceed its authority in April when it allowed a measure removing wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana.

That ruling, by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, came days after Idaho announced plans to cut its wolf population from about 1,000 to no fewer than 150 by extensive hunting and trapping and less than a month after Montana set a wolf hunting quota of 220 out of a population of 566.

“The states want to decimate the wolf population in the Northern Rockies,” said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Montana-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “We want to stop this massive killing that is about to occur.”


Photo:  Courtesy Creative Commons

Posted in: Wolf Delisting Lawsuit, Wolf Wars

Tags: Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WidlEarth Guardians, Judge Molloy, US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. gray wolves, Idaho, Montana

Judge Molloy Upholds “Wolf Delisting Rider”! Horrible News!!

I’m away from home and have to report this terrible news. Judge Molloy upheld the “wolf delisting rider” via budget bill.

Part of the ESA died tonight along with the future of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies. I can barely type this, it’s so heartbreaking.

Judge Upholds Wolf Law Passed By Congress


By The Associated Press

POSTED: 6:08 pm MDT August 3, 2011

HELENA, Mont. — A federal judge has reluctantly ruled to uphold a congressional budget provision that removed federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside of Wyoming.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says that binding precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the rider passed by Congress earlier this year.
Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have ruled unconstitutional the provision that strips wolves of their endangered status in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Molloy says he believes the way Congress passed the provision undermines and disrespects the fundamental idea of the rule of law.
Photos: Courtesy of Creative Commons
Posted in: Wolf Delisting Lawsuit, Wolf Wars, Endangered Species Act
Tags: gray wolves, Judge Molloy, wolf rider upheld, howling for justice

BREAKING NEWS: Wolf Crisis Averted Yesterday But Battle Still Looms

March 1, 2011

Great news for wolves.! The bad section of the House budget bill, 1713, has been exposed and HR 1 has failed.  The House has already passed a new Continuing Resolution to keep the government running. It should pass the Senate easily today.

. Click here here for the link to the new House CR.

We can breathe a sigh of relief, the crisis has been averted, for now. There won’t be a vote later on this week that could have contained section 1713, which would have driven a stake through the hearts of Northern Rockies gray wolves.

Be vigilant, we can celebrate today but you can be assured  there will be more bad delisting moves coming.

Watch how the budget negotiations play out over the next two weeks. The House passed a stopgap measure that will avert a government shutdown and extend the vote on the budget until March 18. We must remain vigilant and keep a close eye on what is included in the permanent budget bill the Senate negotiates.

I believe the power of our voices, raised as one, helped turn the tide. Thank you Wolf Warriors for your supreme efforts on behalf of wolves!!



(Thanks Wolf Watcher For Posting This On FB)

March 1, 2011

With Your Help HR 1 Has Failed

Less than an hour ago the U.S. Senate shut down HR 1!  This budget bill, a Continuing Resolution,  had seemingly countless riders attached to it, including the one written by Idaho Representative Mike Simpson.  Without ever mentioning wolves even once, Representative Simpson’s rider (Section 1713), would have removed wolves from the protections of the Endangered Species Act and would have also prohibited the issue from any future judicial review.  Your calls helped bring to the attention of the Senators reviewing this 359 page resolution what the cryptically written Section 1713 was about.  Your efforts helped, your opinions were heard.

Wolves are no longer hidden in this budget bill, but it is eminent, that in the very near future there will be similar legislation introduced either in the form of another rider, like this one, or in the form of a freestanding bill, where once again the protection of wolves will be under attack again.  So the battle over wolves on Capitol Hill continues, but today is a good day for wolves.

If you wish to follow-up and thank the Senators you contacted for today’s outcome, we have reattached the list of phone numbers below.

And again, we thank you, and the wolves of America thank you as well!

CLICK HERE for link to alert


Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

House passes stopgap funding to avert federal shutdown

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 4:40 p.m.

The House on Tuesday approved a stopgap measure that would keep the federal government funded through March 18 and cut $4 billion in spending by targeting programs that President Obama has already marked for elimination.

The proposal, which passed the House on a 335-to-91 vote, now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday that it is likely to come to a vote in his chamber within 48 hours.

ClICK HERE to read the rest of the article




Photo: Courtesy

Posted in: Wolf Wars, Endangered Species Act

Tags: Crisis averted, 1713 defeated, House passes new CR,  Wolf Watcher,  House passes stopgap funding, Senate, Living with wolves

Waiting Game: Fate Of Wolves In The Northern Rockies?

It’s been over  a year since wolves were delisted in the Northern Rockies, yet it seems like decades. Almost immediately, Montana and Idaho were lining up wolf trophy hunts. Wolf advocates have always been told the states would be reasonable managing wolves, that they “loved wolves”. Well if this is love, it’s TOUGH LOVE.  500 wolves died in the Northern Rockies in 2009 and Wildlife Services is still killing them for agribusiness. It’s been a terrible year.

Wolf supporters watched in horror as wolves were hunted for the first time since their reintroduction. One minute they were a protected species and the next they were target practice. 

It was shocking in it’s swiftness but were we all so naive to think the states could “manage” wolves? State game agencies have never been good at managing predators.  Predators compete for the game hunters want to kill. Hunters are state game agencies’  life blood. They pay licensing fees which fill state game agency coffers.  Why would the welfare of wolves ever trump that relationship? It wouldn’t and it hasn’t.

From the Sierra Club:

“We have consistently maintained that wolves in the northern Rockies are not ready to be removed from the Endangered Species list,” said Sierra Club representative Bob Clark. “Removing federal protections for wolves has left them at the mercy of aggressive state plans that treat wolves as pests rather than a valuable wildlife resource.”

On Tuesday, June  15th, wolves went to court to gain their protections back. The lawsuit to relist wolves, brought by fourteen environmental groups, was finally moving forward.  Judge Molloy was ready to hear oral agruments from both sides of the wolf  issue, at the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Missoula,  Montana.

Of course there were wolf protesters outside the courthouse waving their anti-wolf signs. And of course they were on the front page of  local newspapers. The anti-wolf crowd gets most of the headlines. I guess hateful rhetoric sells. But make no mistake wolves have many, many supporters in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, Wolves have supporters around this country and the world. We might not be as vocal but we are no less passionate about this incredible amd persecuted animal, the gray wolf.

The courtroom was packed,  a brief recess was called when a legal student collapsed while presenting part of the case for The Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

The hearing didn’t last very long,  It was all over in a few hours. 

I want to personally thank Doug Honnold, the lead Earthjustice attorney, for doing such a terrific job for wolves in their dark hour!!

Judge Molloy stated he’d rule “as quickly as I can”.  I hope it comes soon. Montana and Idaho have admitted they are aggressively going after wolves to reduce their numbers in 2010/2011. This is called “wolf love”?  It’s how they show their love for wolves by killing them?  Who do they think they’re kidding?

Both states want to significantly increase their wolf hunt quotas, Montana proposes a wolf archery season and back country wolf rifle season. Idaho may be adding calling, baiting and trapping to their “toolbox” of tricks. I shudder to think what will happen if wolves aren’t relisted.

And we can’t forget the hardcore wolf haters, that love to stir things up. One wolf hating website discussed hunters killing wolves with Xylitol, a popular sweetner, that’s deadly to canines. I guess they don’t care if  pet dogs die along with the wolves they hate so much. Seriously, what is wrong with people?  Do you see what wolves are up against in the Northern Rockies? They cannot survive here without ESA protection.

So now we wait.

The future of the Northern Rockies gray wolf  hangs in the balance.

Posted: Tuesday, 15 June 2010 8:46AM

Fate of Rocky Mountain wolves to be decided

Sierra Club


Photos: courtesy kewl wallpaper

Posted in: Wolf Delisting Lawsuit, Howling For Justice, Wolf Wars

Tags: Judge Molloy, ESA, Doug Honnold,, gray wolf/canis lupus, wolf persecution

Update: Molloy: Why protect wolves in Wyoming, but not Montana and Idaho?

From The Missoulian:

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

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 2:15 pm  Comments (16)  

Judge Molloy Will Hear Oral Arguments, Tuesday June 15, on Wolf Delisting Lawsuit

The day is finally here wolf advocates. Judge Molloy will hear from both sides of the wolf delisting lawsuit on Tuesday, June 15, at the federal courthouse in Missoula, Montana. Earthjustice will be representing wolves and the thirteen environmental groups who sued the USFWS for removing gray wolves protections.

The outcome of this litigation will literally determine the course of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies. Wolves have been under assault in Idaho and Montana since they were delisted in the Spring of 2009. Wolf adovcates have endured a year of unspeakable sadness as we watched wolves slaughtered in two wolf hunts, while they continued to be killed by Wildlife Services, for agribusiness.

It has been worse then I ever imagined it would be.  What is VERY worrisome is Montana FWP  recently declared they still want to hold a wolf hunt, even if Judge Molloy relists wolves. They are trying to find a way to circumvent ESA, in my opinion. Their plan is to allow private hunters to kill wolves for agribusiness, instead of Wildlife Services agents. This is completely wrong and should be addressed immediately.  Why would they do this? Apparently there are people who do not want to be denied a chance to kill a wolf and the state wants to accomodate them. It turns out this is really all about trophy hunting.  Not livestock or tapeworms or Canadian wolves but blood sport. 

I hope it won’t be a circus at the federal courthouse on Tuesday, with the anti-wolf crowd spouting off stupidisms (to borrow one of my friend’s words). It would be great if wolf advocates were there to show  support for wolves. If you can’t make it then you’ll be there in spirit.

Here’s to restoring  ESA protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf. May they have a little peace in 2010 and beyond.

I don’t think Judge Molloy will rule from the bench, so his decision will probably come some time in late summer.

Photo: Courtesy Kewl Wallpapers

Posted in: Wolf Delisting Lawsuit, Montana wolves, endangered species act,  Howling For Justice

Tags: Judge Molloy, ESA, gray wolves, Earthjustice

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