U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy today overturned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rockies from the Endangered Species List, siding with the Defenders of Wildlife in a contentious lawsuit aimed at restoring federal protections for the wolf population. The previous decision to delist gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains was made by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in spring 2009. Molloy overturned the decision, stating it was a political solution that failed to comply with federal law.
The Defenders of Wildlife issued a statement late this afternoon hailing Molloy's ruling a "significant victory for wolves, for the integrity of the Endangered Species Act, and for all Americans who care deeply about conservation." President Roger Schlickeisen elaborated, saying, "Had the federal government prevailed in the lawsuit, real wolf recovery would have been set back for perhaps decades. Worse, the precedent of the federal government making listing and delisting decisions for endangered species based upon political boundaries rather than science would have crippled the Interior Department’s future management of the Endangered Species Act to the detriment of many species."
Some conservationists will no doubt be dancing in the street over the court's decision. We'll have more from state agencies and others as comments come in.