Activists and Hunters Wage War in Court for Fate of the Gray Wolf

Environmentalists want to end hunts in Idaho and Montana, where nearly 200 wolves have been killed since August.

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Activists and Hunters Wage War in Court for Fate of the Gray Wolf
Two gray wolves play in the snow in Yellowstone National Park. (Photo: sociotard/Flickr)

Ever since he was immortalized as a cunning grandma-eating villain in fairy tales, the wolf has gotten a bad rap. And on Tuesday the saga of this embattled ancestor of the domestic dog continued when activists returned to federal court to stop wolf hunts in the Rockies.

According to The Huffington Post, nearly 170 wolves have been killed in Idaho and Montana since late August, when Congress stripped 1300 wolves of their endangered species status, reversing previous court decisions that had protected the animals.

Federal biologists claim the gray wolf populations are healthy enough to support the hunts in Idaho and Montana, two states that want to curb wolf attacks on livestock and big game.

Environmentalists claim that too many wolves are being slaughtered too fast, which could jeopardize the animals’ decades-long return from the brink of extinction. Bob Lane, Montana’s chief legal counsel, maintains that Montana wildlife officials “fully intend to manage [wolves] as a viable species.”

Animal advocates see “management” a little differently. James “Jay” Tutchton is an attorney for WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups that sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after wolves lost their federal protections. “The longer the hunting season goes on, the more risk to the population in total,” said Tutchton .

Pro-wolfers have asked the Ninth District Court of Appeals to suspend the hunt at least while the case is pending. Two previous injunctions to do so have been denied.