On Thursday a federal judge in Montana ruled that wolves in that state and Idaho must be put back on the endangered species list, effectively ending the prospects of a second year of wolf hunting in Idaho. Shortly after the decision was rendered, politicians around the state quickly fired off press statements condemning the ruling. Each of the statements said that Idaho should have the right to manage its own wolf population.
In a joint statement, Idaho’s congressional delegation said that wolf management is a states’ rights issue. Here’s what Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch, Rep. Mike Simpson, and Rep. Walt Minnick had to say about the ruling:
This decision is disappointing. Judge Molloy ignored the exploding population of wolves in Idaho and the constitutional 10thAmendment right of a state to manage its own wildlife populations. The recovery goals set when the wolf was introduced have been met and greatly exceeded. We remain convinced Idaho can manage wolves in a sustainable and responsible way, just as it has done with other species for decades. We look for a more reasonable decision from a higher court.
Gov. Butch Otter also chimed in on the re-listing of wolves and promised a legal challenge to the outcome. Here’s Otter’s full statement:
I am thoroughly disappointed and frustrated with the court’s decision today returning wolves to federal protection. Idaho has done everything asked of us by the federal government in order to delist wolves in our state and restore state management. The State of Idaho, through the Office of Species Conservation and Department of Fish and Game, proved to be an effective and responsible steward of the species under a plan praised by this very court. This judge has inexplicably dismissed a practical, common-sense solution and proven the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is irreparably broken. The number of wolves in Idaho today is almost triple the population necessary for delisting throughout all three states. I don’t know why any state would ever allow another reintroduction of a species because the federal government and radical environmentalists simply cannot live up to their word and allow state management.
Rest assured we will exhaust all of our options to legally reverse this ill-advised decision. Today’s decision should stand as an indictment of both the ESA and federal government.
The man trying to unseat Otter in the fall also offered his take on the situation. Here’s what Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred had to say Thursday:
Idaho had an approved plan that met the federal Fish and Wildlife Service’s litmus test for a strong, state-run management plan. I don’t understand why a gray wolf population that is growing faster than anyone expected would be re-listed under the ESA. Idaho can and should manage its own wolf population.