US sued in bid to force decision on Rockies wolf protections

US sued in bid to force decision on Rockies wolf protections

Written by on August 10, 2022

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Wildlife advocates sued federal officials Tuesday after the government missed a deadline to decide if protections for gray wolves should be restored across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains, where Republican-led states have made it easier to kill the predators.

FILE – This undated photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a wolf of the Teanaway Pack fitted with a radio collar in the Teanaway area of Washington’s Central Cascades in Washington state. Wildlife advocates are suing federal officials after they missed a deadline to decide if protections for wolves should be restored across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains. The Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, asked a federal judge in Montana to order officials to make a decision. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File)

The Biden administration said in a preliminary finding last September that protections for wolves may need to be restored because increased hunting in Idaho and Montana posed a potential threat to wolves across the region.

A final determination was due June 1.

The Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity asked U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Montana to order federal officials to make a final decision.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson Vanessa Kauffman declined comment on the lawsuit and said the agency’s review was ongoing.

FILE – This Feb. 2021, file photo released by California Department of Fish and Wildlife, shows a gray wolf (OR-93), seen near Yosemite, Calif., shared by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Biden administration said in a preliminary finding last September that protections for wolves may need to be restored. A final determination was due June 1. The Humane Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, asked a federal judge in Montana to order officials to make a decision. (California Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, File)

Wolves were exterminated across most of the U.S. by the 1930s under government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns. They were reintroduced from Canada into the northern U.S. Rockies in the 1990s.

Wilderness areas in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have since become strongholds for wolf populations. That’s helped fuel the species’ expansion in recent years into portions of Oregon, Washington state and California.

FILE – Opponents of the state’s decision to eradicate a wolf pack in order to protect cattle protest outside of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Sept. 1, 2016, in Olympia, Wash. Wildlife advocates are suing federal officials after they missed a deadline to decide if protections for wolves should be restored across the northern U.S. Rocky Mountains. Republican-led states in the region have made it easier to kill the predators. That’s raised worries that wolf numbers could be reduced to unsustainable levels. The Biden administration said in a preliminary finding last Sept. 2021, that protections for wolves may need to be restored. A final determination was due June 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte, File)

Republicans governors in Idaho and Montana last year signed laws that expanded when, where and how wolves can be killed.

That raised alarm among former wildlife officials who said increased hunting could cut wolf numbers to unsustainable levels.


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