Promises, promises, promises. That seems to be all Montana residents have gotten over the past 6 years from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each time the USFWS has declared its intentions to de-list the wolf, it gets tied up in court and the last time in 2005, when the wolf was to be down-listed from endangered to threatened, an Oregon judge overruled the whole thing and consequently nothing happened.

Today, the Feds announced one more time their plans to remove the wolf from the endangered list. While many remain hopeful, the reality is that wolf advocate groups will tie this up in court for perhaps decades and many fear that the case will end up back in the court of the same judge who overruled the decision in 2005. Those who fear that the wolf is destroying other valuable game animals also fear by the time the courts are done deciding, it will be too late.

Enough is enough says the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. They intend to bring a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to force the de-listing and turn control of the wolf over to the state. In doing so, they have asked the state of Montana to join them in the lawsuit. Because of not completely following administrative details in previous actions, the state of Montana is not eligible to sue the Feds but Friends are and they’re asking the state to now join them, which they can do.

Friends’ Chairman & Founder, Robert T. Fanning, Jr. of Pray, Montana commented; “Ten years of political negotiations have failed miserably. Our lawsuit is now the only way left for Montana to force delisting – the only game in town. Without the ability to join our suit, Montana’s only alternative will be to wait patiently for the feds to do what they have promised to do since January 11, 2000, but haven’t done yet and may never do. Our suit is particularly important because any future moves by the feds to delist wolves will simply be overturned by the same Oregon judge who torpedoed the attempted down listing of wolves from endangered to threatened.”

HB 343(pdf file) is the bill introduced into the Montana legislature that would appropriate the money to join the suit. Originally the bill sought $150,000.

HOUSE BILL NO. 343
2 INTRODUCED BY D. RICE
3
4 A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT APPROPRIATING MONEY FROM THE GENERAL FUND TO THE
5 LEGISLATIVE SERVICES DIVISION TO FUND STATE PARTICIPATION IN A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE
6 FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CHALLENGING THE FAILURE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO REMOVE
7 WOLVES FROM THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.”

Since that bill was introduced, a new section was added to appropriate a total of $200,000 – $150,000 for legal services and an additional $50,000 for administrative costs. That bill is now in the Appropriations Committee awaiting action.

Tom Remington