Fraught with uncertainty, Idaho's first regulated wolf hunt will get under way as planned, opening in the Lolo and Sawtooth wolf zones Tuesday, September 1.
Late Monday, August 31, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of the U.S. District Court in Missoula had issued no decision on a preliminary injunction that would have returned the wolf to federal endangered species protection.
Following a three-hour hearing, Molloy took the issue under advisement. He said he would rule soon.
"By taking the issue under advisement, Judge Molloy today gives Idaho an opportunity to further demonstrate that we are and will continue to successfully manage the species," Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said Monday. "We have a sound, data-driven management plan in place, and we keep our promises. As the Idaho Department of Fish and Game implements that plan, which includes a hunting season, I am confident the judge will recognize that our sportsmen, ranchers, farmers - and indeed, all Idahoans - are responsible stewards of Idaho's wildlife, including wolves."
If the judge issues a ruling that affects Idaho wolf hunts, Idaho Fish and Game will notify hunters. Hunters are asked to check the Fish and Game Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, or call the toll-free wolf hunt information number 1-877-872-3190 before their hunt.
The injunction was sought by parties to a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list earlier this year.
If legal action closes the season before October 9, Idaho Fish and Game would issue refunds to hunters who bought tags and can show they didn't hunt. The wolf tag refund policy and request form are available from Fish and Game and the agency's Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/hunt/wolf/.