UPDATED: Wolf Hunts Challenged; 71 Killed So Far in Rockies

first_img Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. BILLINGS – Wildlife advocates on Monday asked for an emergency injunction to stop state-sponsored gray wolf hunts that have claimed at least 71 of the animals in the Northern Rockies since late August.The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was asked to halt the hunts in Idaho and Montana within 21 days. Hunting harvest figures are expected to climb sharply as general rifle seasons in the two states get underway this month.“As the snow falls it becomes much more easier to track these animals and many more may be taken in the next few weeks,” said Mark Salvo with WildEarth Guardians, which was joined by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater in filing the injunction request.“We don’t believe wolves have recovered in this region and we don’t believe states should be hunting wolves,” Salvo added.The injunction request came in an appeal of a U.S. District Court ruling that upheld this spring’s removal of more than 1,300 wolves in the region from the endangered species list. Those federal protections were lifted by Congress in defiance of prior court rulings.State officials say they intend to sustain viable wolf populations but want the predator’s numbers reduced to curb attacks on livestock and big game herds. More than 250 wolves were killed in the two states when protections for the animals were temporarily lifted in 2009.So far in 2011, hunters have killed 11 wolves in Montana and 60 in Idaho.Idaho officials have not set a quota for this year’s hunt, which runs through June. They say they will maintain at least 150 of the state’s more than 800 wolves, as required under a management plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.Montana has a quota of 220 wolves for a season that runs through Dec. 31. But officials there have pledged to shut down the hunt as soon as that figure is reached.“We know everybody is watching us closely and we want to get it right,” said Tom Palmer with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “This is wildlife management at its best and we’re going to keep really close tabs on it.”The 9th Circuit already rejected a similar emergency injunction request from the advocacy groups in August. But representatives of the groups said they wanted to try again given that several hundred more wolves could be killed in coming months.“Before it was just theoretical. Now we have some numbers and can point out that 37,000 hunters are about to be out in the field looking for a little more than 1,000 wolves,” said Michael Garrity with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.Oral arguments in the appeal before the 9th Circuit are set for Nov. 8.More than 300 wolves in Wyoming remain on the endangered species list because of past disagreements between the state and federal wildlife officials over how the animals should be managed. But the two sides recently resolved those differences, paving the way for wolf hunts in Wyoming possibly as early as next year. Emaillast_img