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Natural Resources & Energy

Environmental Groups Push To Return Protections To Gray Wolves

A wolf howling in nature.
Jim Laybourn
Jim Laybourn

Wildlife advocacy groups are asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore Endangered Species Act protections for Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves.

This petition comes after Montana and Idaho passed bills that increased the number of wolves that can be harvested and added more methods used to kill wolves.

Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the new laws enacted by Montana and Idaho are deeply troubling for the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population.

"So Idaho's bill, for example, allows the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90 percent of the wolves population, allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, and run them down with ATVs and snowmobiles," she said.

Zaccardi said these newly enacted laws could decrease the gray wolf population dramatically. Potentially below the minimum population count required by the federal government.

She added that when the wolves were delisted, the agency stated if significant changes occurred in the state's management plans, they may have to reconsider the status of the species.

"If the states passed any laws that would allow unregulated killing of wolves. And the bills that we've seen in Idaho and Montana do exactly that," she said.

The agency has 90 days to respond to the petition.

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