Wolf War Front Update

Fast-moving developments on the national wolf front in the past four days, and if you believe the AP story filed today, Congressional delisting is all but a done deal — and it would include parts of eastern Washington and Oregon.

First, over the weekend, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled against last month’s proposed settlement between the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and 10 plaintiffs on the status of wolves at the same time as a pair of U.S. Congressmen said Canis lupus would be delisted under a pending budget bill.

The Congressmen, Idaho U.S. House Rep. Mike Simpson (R) and Montana Senator Jon Tester (D), sent out statements today on HR 1473, a continuing resolution, which inserts a clause known as 1713 overturning last August’s federal court ruling in Missoula and directs the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to reissue its spring 2009 delisting ruling.

This morning, Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesmen wrote a blog entitled “Wolf delisting rider adds final insult to environmentalists’ end game on recovery.”

And now, Matthew Brown of the Associated Press reports, “Wildlife advocates conceded Tuesday the wolf provision was all but certain to remain in the spending bill after efforts to remove it failed. Congress faces a tight deadline on a budget plan already months overdue, and the rider has bipartisan support.”

It orders the Interior Department to lift protections for wolves within 60 days in five Western states. A federal judge in Montana has turned back three prior attempts by Interior officials to declare wolves recovered, under both the Bush and Obama administrations.

Protections would remain intact in Wyoming, at least for now. But wolf hunting would resume this fall in Idaho and Montana, where an estimated 1,250 of the animals have been blamed in hundreds of livestock attacks and for declines seen in some big game herds. Wolves also would be returned to state management in Washington, Oregon and Utah.

A Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife wolf biologist indicates the agency was somewhat surprised to learn that the eastern third of the state, where the Diamond and Salmo Packs live, would be part of the delisting.

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