Following a recent ruling from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula, Montana to again classify wolves in Montana and Idaho as “endangered,” the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks held a meeting Friday to summon stakeholder input.
After that two-hour discussion closed, Jim Brown shared with us the observations from the Montana Wool Grower’s Association.
- FWP indicated it will appeal Judge Molloy’s ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the September 5, 2010 deadline.
- FWP says it will join the State of Idaho in appealing, even if the federal government decides not to appeal the decision.
- FWP says it will also pursue additional authority under rule 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act to allow it to take more wolves, despite the ruling relisting the wolves. To this end, they plan to seek a downgrade of status of wolves located north of I90 from ‘endangered’ to threatened.
- They will also seek more authority to take wolves located in the experimental population – which are those wolves located south of I-90.
Jim told us that the comments from the affected members were along these lines:
- The coalition groups will support the decision to appeal, so long as FWP also pursues additional federal authority under the ESA to manage/cull wolves.
- The coalition has serious concerns that pursuing the litigation strategy will keep wolves on the endangered species list for years.
- The coalition also stated that it wants FWP and the Governor to support endorsing congressional efforts to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho.
- Senator Baucus has indicated he will drop a bill in the Senate to do that when the Senate goes back into session.
- The parties stated that if settlement negotiations were entered into with the environmental groups, that any number of wolves beyond the 300 and 30 breeding pair would not be acceptable to any party.
- It was suggested that the State of Montana go on the offensive and sue the US Fish and Wildlife Services to establish what exactly are the appropriate criteria for determining whether the gray wolf populations in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming are delisted. FWP did not like this idea.
- It was also suggested that part of the strategy here has to be to pursue additional mitigation measures. It was discussed having Senator Tester appropriate additional federal dollars to wolf mitigation and compensation. In addition, it was discussed having the Montana legislature appropriate more money for the livestock compensation and mitigation board, as well as to have the state appropriate more money to FWP for predator control purposes.
- Finally, the legislature’s response to this ruling was discussed. FWP is concerned that the legislature may attempt to declare wolves in Montana a predator, and can be managed as such. FWP is concerned that the legislature may take action, which prevents FWP from working cooperatively with US Fish and Wildlife Services to manage wolves.
Along with the Montana Wool Growers Association, other groups in on the open-invitation meeting included the Montana Bowhunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Cattleman’s Association, Montana Stockgrowers Association and the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.
© Northern Ag Network 2010