HELENA, Mont., Aug. 6 (UPI) — Wolves in Montana and Idaho must enjoy the same endangered species protection as their cousins in Wyoming, a federal judge has ruled.
Protected federal status for wolves in the two states had been removed by the U.S government, and around 250 wolves were killed in hunts in both states, with an increase in the number that could be harvested announced for this year, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Judge Donald W. Molloy of the District Court for the District of Montana said applying protections to wolves in Wyoming and not to those in Montana and Idaho was “like saying an orange is an orange only when it is hanging on a tree.”
Wolves “can be endangered wherever they are within the range” of the distinct wolf population covered by federal protections, he ruled.
Molloy’s decision came in a case brought by environmental and animal protection groups. Hunters and ranchers have long opposed the protection of the predators.
After last fall’s hunting season, there were thought to be about 500 wolves in Montana and 835 in Idaho, the Times reported.
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