by The Associated Press
BILLINGS — A federal appeals court on Tuesday turned down an emergency request by wildlife advocates seeking to stop gray wolf hunts in the Northern Rockies. But the court said judges will reconsider the issue in November.
The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal means hunters can continue for now pursuing an estimated 1,300 wolves in Idaho and Montana. Congress stripped the animals of Endangered Species Act protections through a provision attached to a budget bill that was signed into law in the spring.
A federal judge in Missoula had ruled last year that the animals deserved continued protection, and a lawsuit brought by advocacy groups contends Congress overstepped its bounds.
Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Nov. 8 before a three-judge panel. Tuesday’s order said the 9th Circuit will consider the emergency injunction request at that time.
Wildlife managers from the states say reducing the wolf population by hundreds of animals will help prevent wolf attacks on livestock and big game such as elk. Since August, hunters have killed 65 wolves in Idaho and 11 in Montana.
Michael Garrity with the Alliance for the Wild Rockies says he remains optimistic that the court will eventually rule in favor of hunt opponents.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said the agency was pleased with Tuesday’s ruling.