Appeals Court Must Vacate Wolf Ruling


Three western groups today replied to a brief filed by environmental groups and urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to declare moot appeals filed in litigation by the groups to put wolves in Idaho and Montana on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) list and to vacate a ruling by a Montana federal district court. 

The Montana Farm Bureau Federation and the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and their attorney, Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), intervened in a June 2009 lawsuit by the groups in which the Montana court, in July 2009, struck down the April 2009 decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf from ESA protection in Idaho and Montana. 

After the Montana district court’s ruling, which was appealed, Congress passed and President Obama signed a law that required the wolf’s delisting.  The groups challenged the law’s constitutionality but the district court upheld the law; then, the groups appealed to the Ninth Circuit. 

In March 2012, a three-judge panel rejected the appeal and ruled Congress amended the ESA by requiring the wolf’s delisting.

“Because these groups want to use the 2009 ruling in future litigation, it must be vacated,” said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president.

The gray wolf (Canis lupus) once roamed the northern Rocky Mountain region; however, due to their predation on livestock, the federal government permitted their killing; by 1930, wolves had been almost eliminated in the region.  In 1973, the FWS listed the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) as “endangered” and, in 1978, listed the gray wolf as “endangered” in the lower 48 States, except Minnesota where it was listed as “threatened.”  In 1994, the FWS captured wolves in Canada, imported them into the United States, and released them in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.  By 2002, the wolf population had achieved its numerical, distributional, and temporal recovery goals, and the FWS began its delisting process. 

In January 2004 and in July 2007, the FWS determined that Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming had wolf management plans that would maintain viable wolf populations.  In February 2008, the FWS identified the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS of gray wolves and removed it from the ESA list.  In April 2008, environmental groups sued to prevent the FWS from delisting the wolf.  Such an order was granted in July 2008; in October 2008, the court vacated the FWS plan and the FWS’s determination as to Wyoming and remanded the case to the FWS.  In October 2008, the FWS reopened the comment period; MSLF filed comments on November 25, 2008.  On April 2, 2009, the FWS issued its rule to delist the wolf in Montana and Idaho.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in metropolitan Denver, Colorado.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, Nos. 09cv77, 09cv82 (D.Mont.)

Source: Mountain States Legal Foundation

Posted by Northern Ag Network 

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