Court re­jects law­suit, lets wolf hunt con­tinue

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation -

BILLINGS | A fed­eral ap­peals court on Wed­nes­day re­jected a law­suit from con­ser­va­tion groups that want to block wolf hunts that have killed more than 500 of the preda­tors across the North­ern Rock­ies in re­cent months.

The rul­ing from a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals said Congress had the right to in­ter­vene when it stripped pro­tec­tions from wolves last spring.

Law­mak­ers stepped in af­ter court rul­ings kept wolves on the en­dan­gered list for years af­ter they reached re­cov­ery goals. Wildlife ad­vo­cates claimed in their law­suit that Congress vi­o­lated the sepa­ra­tion of pow­ers by in­ter­fer­ing with the courts.

But in an opin­ion au­thored by Judge Mary Schroeder, the court said Congress was within its rights, and that law­mak­ers had ap­pro­pri­ately amended the En­dan­gered Species Act to deal with North­ern Rock­ies wolves.

That amend­ment marked the first time Congress has forcibly re­moved a species’ en­dan­gered sta­tus. It was tacked onto a fed­eral bud­get bill by Idaho Re­pub­li­can Rep. Michael K. Simp­son and Mon­tana Demo­cratic Sen. Jon Tester.

“This case has made it clear that those who per­sist in try­ing to man­age wildlife through the courts, in spite of all sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that this species has re­cov­ered, no longer have a de­fen­si­ble po­si­tion,” Mr. Simp­son said Wed­nes­day.

The Utah Di­vi­sion of Solid and Haz­ardous Waste has given base of­fi­cials a no­tice of vi­o­la­tion for the 2007 mer­cury spill. The agency says the spill was han­dled by un­trained work­ers and stored in plas­tic con­tain­ers.

Di­vi­sion Di­rec­tor Scott An­der­son says the max­i­mum fine is $13,000 per day. That could mean a fine of more than $18 mil­lion.

At­tor­ney Scot Boyd says the prob­lem was first re­ported by a for­mer em­ployee who han­dled the mer­cury at the base about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City. The em­ployee is con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­men­tal dan­gers of the stored mer­cury.

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