Tribes and environmentalists are still awaiting a court decision on whether gray wolves will be removed from the endangered species list in the northern Rocky Mountains.
The settlement following 10 years of litigation, proposed March 18 by the U.S. Department of the Interior, would de-list the wolves in Idaho and Montana, returning management of those populations to the states themselves.
“For too long, management of wolves in this country has been caught up in controversy and litigation instead of rooted in science where it belongs,” said Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes in the March 18 press release announcing the proposed settlement. “This proposed settlement provides a path forward to recognize the successful recovery of the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains and to return its management to states and tribes.”
Some states and tribes are amenable to this arrangement, and some aren’t. Those who are include the Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon Wild, Sierra Club and Wildlands Network, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
The Center for Biological Diversity emphasized that it was not the optimum solution, just one that stopped the wolves from being de-listed in other states where they’re more vulnerable.
“We hope today’s agreement will mark the beginning of a new era of wolf conservation in the Northern Rockies, as well as confirm the success of the Endangered Species Act and this country’s boldest wildlife reintroduction effort in history,” the Center said on March 18. “The proposed settlement maintains protections in Oregon and Washington, where wolves have not yet fully recovered, while allowing for responsible state management in Idaho and Montana.”
Other groups do not agree, and the matter was argued in court on March 24. The final decision rests with U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who has twice previously refused to de-list the animals. At press time there was no indication of when he would rule.