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Idaho part of effort to overturn wolf ruling

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Idaho joined Montana and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar this week in appealing a U.S. District Court ruling relisting wolves as endangered species in the Intermountain West.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden led the pack Thursday to ask the 9thU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy’s Aug. 5 decision that restored federal protections to wolves in Idaho and Montana.

Going at it from a different angle, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho, introduced a bill Wednesday to remove the wolves from the endangered species list altogether.

Under the Endangered Species Act, wolves are managed as a single population. If a population spans more than one state, Molloy ruled, protection cannot be removed on a state-by-state basis. In this case, Salazar had tried to delist wolves in Idaho and Montana, but not Wyoming.

“We’re seeing a troubling pattern of behavior here, with Judge Molloy consistently ruling in support of federal control over our land, our resources and our way of life in the West,” Otter said in a press release, referring to another of the judge’s decisions this week that upheld federal control over regulating firearms.

However, Garrick Dutcher of Ketchum-based Living With Wolves called Idaho’s appeal just an 11th-hour election-year stunt, and claims by Otter of livestock carnage overstated, saying attacks on livestock have fallen this year.

“This is not a state sovereignty issue,” Dutcher said. “Sadly, the waste of taxpayer funds to pursue this appeal is not about wildlife management and reality; it is about politics.”

Bob Clark, associate regional organizer of the Sierra Club wolf program, said his group — which fought delisting in court — isn’t saying state fish and game departments aren’t capable of managing wolves. And it respects the states’ right to appeal.

“The courts are used by both sides,” Clark said. “But delisting wolves along political boundaries doesn’t meet the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, which demands decisions based not upon emotion or politics but on the best-available science as recently upheld by Salazar,” he continued, referring to the Interior secretary’s Wednesday move to issue rules to protect scientific integrity.

Meanwhile, the clock’s still ticking on an ultimatum by Otter to stop monitoring, providing law enforcement support or investigating wolf deaths in Idaho.

Otter told Salazar that he’d negotiate a new agreement for the state to manage wolves until this Thursday. But if an agreement isn’t struck by then, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will cease to carry out its wolf management responsibilities.

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