by Carly Flandro, Chronicle Staff Writer
Four wolves were killed during Montana’s archery season, which closed Sunday.
That concluded the state’s first official archery season for wolves, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The wolves that were taken included two females and two males.
Another seven wolves have been killed by rifle hunters during the early backcountry season, which is ongoing.
General rifle season for wolves begins Saturday, and several environmental groups announced Monday that they have filed an injunction to stop the hunts.
“The numbers of humans with rifles in wolf habitat is about to increase exponentially,” said Mike Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “This translates into a much higher chance of wolf-human interactions as well as a much more efficient mechanism available to kill wolves during those encounters. The only way to stop this senseless, politically driven wolf slaughter is to seek an emergency injunction . . . to stop wolf hunts.”
Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians joined Garrity’s group in filing the request.
In April, wolves in Montana and Idaho were removed from the endangered species list with language inserted into the 2011 budget by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
That language, known as a “rider,” has allowed this year’s hunting season to go through, even though environmental groups have repeatedly fought against it.
In the injunction filed Monday, the environmental groups charged that the rider violates the U.S. Constitution.
“While Congress absolutely has the right to make and amend laws, the wolf delisting rider does not amend the Endangered Species Act — it circumvents the judicial process and then, by exempting it from judicial review, it basically nullifies the constitutional checks and balances,” Garrity said in a prepared statement.
Wildlife groups also challenged the rider in U.S. District Court in July.
In an August order, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy wrote that “the way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the (2011 budget) is a tearing away, an undermining and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law.”
However, his ruling allowed wolves to be kept off the endangered species list because he was constrained by what he believed was a “binding precedent from the Ninth Circuit.”
“We’re continuing the battle to stop the wolf killing because Judge Molloy’s ruling fully supports our contention that there is a well-established legal process that applies to every other species,” Garrity said in a prepared statement. “Pure political expediency should not be the driving force by which our nation’s imperiled animals and plants will or will not be protected for future generations.”
The wildlife groups are seeking the injunction from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.