MISSOULA, Mont.-The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today heard arguments from both sides of a lawsuit alleging that Congress acted unconstitutionally when it removed wolves from the endangered species list and cleared the way for wolf hunting seasons now underway in Idaho and Montana.
An attorney representing the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other conservation groups presented oral arguments supporting the Congressional action, wolf delisting and science-based, state-regulated management and control of wolf populations.
The court is expected to issue its ruling soon.
“We’re hopeful for a quick and favorable ruling, especially since a lower court already ruled against the plaintiffs-a coalition of animal rights and environmental activist groups,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “Our opponents don’t seem to care that in some areas, elk calf survival rates are now too low to sustain herds for the future. We support a more balanced approach to conservation.”
Today’s hearing was held in a Pasadena, Calif., courtroom. RMEF and Safari Club International led two different groups granted intervenor status in the case. An attorney representing their collective position was given seven minutes to present arguments.
Key facts of the case include:
- Wolves were relocated from Canada to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming in 1994 as a “nonessential, experimental population” under the Endangered Species Act.
- The wolf population in each state passed stated recovery goals some 10 years ago.
- Current wolf populations across the three states are known to exceed 1,700 animals, and in many areas are out of balance with biological and cultural tolerances.
- Conservation has succeeded in America because of science-based, state-regulated management and control of wild species, including predators. All evidence suggests this system also would work well for wolves.
- Litigious animal rights and environmental activist groups have managed to keep wolves under full federal protections for much of the past decade.
- RMEF was among the first groups to call on Congress for a legislative remedy.
- In April 2011, Congress passed a measure that delisted wolves in parts of the West.
- Congress did not, as plaintiffs claim, violate “separation of powers” when it partially delisted wolves. In today’s hearing, attorneys presented ample legal precedents supporting the Congressional action. RMEF joined the other conservation groups in asking the appellate court to uphold the favorable ruling issued in August by U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Mont.
Allen said, “If they lose this decision, plaintiffs could take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. But I’m hoping that a Congressional act, two courtroom defeats and an American public that is clearly tired of all this legal wrangling will encourage our opponents to give up-and cede responsible wolf management and control to conservation professionals in each state. But we’ll have to wait and see.”
RMEF continues to fight wolf lawsuits and support delisting legislation at both federal and state levels.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
RMEF is leading a conservation initiative that has protected or enhanced habitat on over 6 million acres-an area larger than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yosemite, Rocky Mountain and Great Smoky Mountains national parks combined. RMEF also is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. RMEF members, partners and volunteers, working together as Team Elk, are making a difference all across elk country. Join us at www.rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.