Since wolves were delisted on March 28, 37 have been killed by hunters, ranchers and government agents in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. This represents two percent of the region's wolf population of over 1,500, which increases about 25 percent annually. Environmental and animal-rights groups had initially stated they would wait 60 days after delisting to assess the impact before filing suit, but instead they filed after a month. These groups want to see as many as 5,000 wolves in the Northern Rockies before, they claim, they would be confident that the gray wolf is no longer faced with possible extirpation. The lawsuit may be in court for years, with an injunction in place until it is settled. Earthjustice filed the suit on behalf of a consortium of groups, including the likes of The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club and others.
Another lawsuit has been filed as well, challenging a current revision in the Endangered Species Act that permits the killing of listed wolves that are threatening dogs or depleting elk, deer or moose populations. Since 1974, an estimated $27 million in federal taxes have gone to wolf conservation and restoration. It appears another tidy sum is now going to be spent in court fighting over how to manage the animals that have been conserved. Stay tuned.