As Deadline Passes, Constitutionality of Wolves’ Removal from Endangered Species List is Affirmed

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While the fight is probably not totally over, on the morning of June 13 advocates of state-based wolf management and control awoke to a major victory. The June 12 deadline to appeal a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld Congress’ removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list had passed, affirming the constitutionality of the delisting.

Advocates of regulated wolf management have long argued that the resurgence of wolf populations after their listing on the federal endangered species list in 1974 has led to extensive  livestock damage. Additionally, wolf packs have been reported to be a substantial danger to other threatened big game species such as elk.

Craig Medred, an Alaskan and award winning journalist, summed up this point nicely in the Anchorage Daily News: ”A kill of 124 wolves would thus translate to [the survival of] 1,488 moose or 2,976 caribou or some combination thereof.”

While this issue will likely never completely go away, there is some hope now that anti-hunting groups will see that responsible wolf hunting and management is the best way to protect livestock and game while maintaining healthy wolf populations.

Original Press Release by Blue Heron Communications/Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation on June 14, 2012:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March affirmed the constitutionality of Congress’ removal of wolves from the federal endangered species list. The deadline to appeal that decision passed quietly this week with no action from plaintiff animal rights and anti-hunting groups.

Attorneys representing the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation say the no-action means the case will not advance to the U.S. Supreme Court, and that the litigation has ended in favor of science-based, state-regulated management and control of wolves.

“A lawsuit that began in 2011 in Judge Donald Molloy’s courtroom in Missoula, Mont., following the Congressional delisting, is finally over—and conservation has prevailed,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “No appeals paperwork had been filed by end of the day on June 12, so the Ninth Circuit’s decision is absolutely final.”

Allen said RMEF applauds the development because it helps clear the way for continued work to balance wolf populations with other wildlife and human needs.

Attorneys representing RMEF and other conservation groups in the Ninth Circuit hearing had presented oral arguments supporting the Congressional action, wolf delisting and science-based, state-regulated management and control of wolf populations.

RMEF has pledged to continue to fight wolf lawsuits and support delisting legislation at both federal and state levels.

Image © iStockPhoto.com/Richard Seeley