His ruling criticizes maintaining endangered status for wolves in Wyoming but not in the neighboring two states. That may bode well for conservationists seeking to restore protections.
Reporting from Seattle - With four gray wolves having been killed in Idaho since Sept. 1, a federal judge has cleared the way for legal hunting of the once-endangered predators to proceed.
U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy in Montana found that there would be no irreparable harm if the limited hunt in that state and Idaho were allowed to go forward.
But the judge also wrote that the Fish and Wildlife Service, in continuing to list Wyoming wolves under the Endangered Species Act while delisting them in the two neighboring states, "has distinguished a natural population of wolves based on a political line, not the best available science."
That finding suggested that a coalition of conservation groups would have a good chance of prevailing when its argument for restoring the wolves' endangered status gets a full hearing.