Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Delisting Rider Unconstitutional

This is a space where we’ll post the various documents that wolf advocates will be filing in federal district court of their challenge of the recent wolf delisting rider that was attached to the 2011 budget bill.

Different parties raced to file, with Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians in one camp, the Center for Biological Diversity in another having already filed.  Western Watersheds Project has opted to file its own separate case as well.

It is likely that the cases will be consolidated in the Montana District Court.

We’ll post the filings as they become available.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians 

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Center for Biological Diversity

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Molloy denies wolf settlement

Says that the agreement is illegal

Today Montana District Court Judge Donald Molloy denied the settlement agreement put forth by 10 of the 14 environmental groups who sued to keep wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The settling parties had asked the judge to set aside his previous ruling which found that the USFWS 2009 delisting rule was illegal because it split the distinct population segment (DPS) of wolves in the Northern Rockies and left them listed in Wyoming.  The Endangered Species Act does not allow the USFWS to partially delist a DPS.

“[The] District Court is still constrained by the “rule of law.” No matter how useful a course of conduct might be to achieve a certain end, no matter how beneficial or noble the end, the limit of power granted to the District Court must abide by the responsibilities that flow from past political decisions made by the Congress. The law cannot be ignored to accommodate a partial settlement. The rule of law does not afford the District Court the power to decide a legal issue but then at the behest of some of the litigants to reverse course and permit what the Congress has forbidden because some of those interested have sensibly, or for other reasons, decided to lay a dispute to rest.”

Order Denying Indicative Relief Motion

Lawmakers try to lift wolf protection despite deal

Fail

I wish I could suggest this was a surprise:

Lawmakers try to lift wolf protection despite dealAssociated Press

Key lawmakers in the political skirmish over gray wolves in the West say they will continue their efforts to lift federal protections for the predators, despite a proposed settlement between environmentalists and the government.

When I watched the political process unfold in Idaho, I learned something:

A few conservationists’ attempted to appease the flagrant anti-wolf sentiment of the heavy-handed IDFG management plan by agreeing to sign off on everything in exchange for a sliver of a “wolf watching area” in the Wood River Valley.  One crumb was asked, where hunting would be off-limits.  Decision-makers scoffed and rejected the idea.

How did compensation work at increasing tolerance for wolves ?  It hasn’t.

Rational decision-making processes haven’t worked with anti-wolfers.  Political appeasement hasn’t worked.  In fact, it seems to be counterproductive, accomplishing little more than a demonstration of weakness – emboldening the anti-wolf effort.

Added 4/1/11 ~ a more lengthy rendition of the AP story :
Lawmakers to keep pressing wolf bills despite settlement between wolf advocates and government

~ be

Wolf settlement hearing today.

The hearing on the “wolf settlement” begins in just a few minutes.  I won’t guess what the outcome will be but I think the case against the settlement is pretty strong. It also appears that the backlash against the settling parties has been strong among wolf supporters with many stating that they have removed their support.

What’s worse, letting the legislature gut the ESA or doing it yourself?

Wolf settlement puts ball in judge’s court.
By EVE BYRON – Helena Independent Record

Arguments Filed Asking Judge Molloy to Consider Wolf Settlement

Earlier we learned why Western Watersheds Project stands firm. Does not join wolf settlement. Now initial briefs have been filed before the Court, with the Settling Parties filing a motion for an indicative ruling, essentially asking the judge whether he would partially stay the August 2010 order vacating and setting aside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2009 Delisting Rule in the states of Idaho and Montana only.

I have attached links to several of the briefs, including Western Watersheds Project’s brief opposing the settlement, below the fold:

Introduction

Pursuant to the Court’s March 21, 2011 Order, Dkt. 193, Western Watersheds Project hereby objects to and opposes the Motion for Indicative Ruling filed jointly by several plaintiffs and defendants (collectively the “Settling Parties”) who attempt to settle the present case and a related case (No. cv-08-14-M-DWM). Dkt. 187.

The Settling Parties seek to strip Western Watersheds Project (“WWP”) and other non-settling plaintiffs of the legal ruling already rendered in their favor by this Court, without intervening or overriding legal authority, without all parties agreeing to the proposed settlement, and without ensuring adequate protection for wolves. The Court already held it improper for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) to base its Northern Rocky Mountain (“NRM”) wolves delisting decision on politics. Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, 729 F. Supp. 2d 1207, 1228 (D. Mont. 2010)(“Even if the Service’s solution is pragmatic, or even practical, it is at its heart a political solution that does not comply with the ESA.”) Yet the Settling Parties now seek the Court’s blessing for the politically motivated decision to be reinstated, and they provide no basis for the ruling they seek and settlement they propose, other than altered political postures.

Read the rest of this entry »

Some groups settle on wolf delisting lawsuit; others don’t

Groups pursue different strategies for a variety of reasons-

I suppose there might be different statements from some of the groups. I think the differences were based on differing perceptions of what the future holds in terms of legislation and the worthiness of the Administration’s position of protecting the existing population of wolves.

Personally, I think the idea that there needs to be 5000 wolves is wrong as well as politically unpopular. The existing wolf population of about 1600 is robust and genetically healthy, but both could change.

Settlement offer splits wolves’ supporters; law firm withdraws.  By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record.

Rift splits groups fighting to keep wolves on species list

We Won ! … Let’s Settle ?!?

“Among politicians and businessmen, *Pragmatism* is the current term for “To hell with our children.””
~ Edward Abbey

You win some, you lose some … but when a coalition of wolf advocates were successful in demonstrating that federal efforts to delist wolves were not based on science, i.e. unlawful, and won an injunction in federal court putting Northern Rocky Mountain wolves back on the Endangered Species List, the effort wasn’t over – not by a long shot.

Threat of political intervention, legislative delisting, hangs over this question thick – and it’s this pressure, or more appropriately wolf advocates’ response to it, that is being tested now.

Earthjustice has stepped down from representing wolf-advocates as Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Wildlands Network and Hells Canyon Preservation Council look to find cover from their own shadow :

Rift splits groups fighting to keep wolves on species listGreat Falls Tribune

The Alliance, Western Watersheds Project and Friends of the Clearwater refused to settle, Garrity told the Tribune Thursday.

“I believe these other groups will ask Judge Molloy for stay of his ruling which put wolves back on the Endangered Species List. This would mean that wolves could then be shot on sight and the states could have a hunting season on wolves before the wolf population is fully recovered,” Garrity said. “We are sticking to our original request that wolf management should be based on science and the law, not politics.”