Federal Judge Finds Wolf Delisting Likely Illegal

Livingston, MT (September 9, 2009) -- Today, a federal judge found that the federal government likely violated the law when it removed Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies. While the judge allowed controversial wolf hunts to move forward this fall in Montana and Idaho, the decision finds that conservation groups are “likely to prevail” on the merits of the lawsuit. The decision follows an injunction to stop the hunts filed earlier this month by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a large consortium of conservation groups represented by EarthJustice.

"In the big picture, this is a win.” said Louisa Willcox, Senior Wildlife Advocate for NRDC. “We feel good about the judge’s analysis of the merits of our case. The Department of Interior has clearly missed an opportunity to get this right. We need a national wolf recovery plan and this piecemeal effort just won’t get us there.”

Today’s decision is an outgrowth of the long legal battle over the future of wolves in the region. In June, the same groups challenged the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove protections for packs in Montana and Idaho. NRDC has long-advocated for a national wolf recovery plan based on the most current science. The groups will be back in court as the challenge over the Endangered Species Act listing continues.

The conservation groups are represented by Earthjustice. Joining NRDC in the coalition are Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Network, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.