In a victory for the gray wolf, a federal court today overturned the federal government's controversial decision to strip wolves of all protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and turn management over to the states of Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, Born Free USA and Friends of Animals and Their Environment.
"This is a great day for wolves in the Great Lakes region, and a crushing blow for wealthy trophy hunting groups like the Safari Club and the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance who were champing at the bit to take part in the planned slaughter of these magnificent creatures," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States.
The court ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to carve out and delist the cluster of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region was not clearly supported by either the language or purpose of the ESA, and thus ordered the decision vacated. In July, a federal judge in Montana overturned a similar decision stripping wolves of all federal protection in the Rocky Mountain region, thus preventing Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from implementing wolf hunts as well.
Prior to today's decision, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan had all authorized the killing of wolves, and their management plans would collectively allow nearly a 50 percent reduction in the region's wolf population. Those plans were scuttled by today's decision restoring federal protections for wolves in the region.
The plaintiffs are represented pro bono in the case by Faegre & Benson LLP.
Copies of the decision in HSUS et al. v. Kempthorne, No. 07-0677 (D.D.C. September 29, 2008) are available upon request.
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