What appeared to be the final legal hurdle has been cleared before Idaho's wolf hunting season begins next week.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians were unsuccessful in obtaining an emergency injunction from the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the imminent hunt. Late Thursday, the Ninth Circuit denied the request.
But hunt opponents were not totally undeterred.
"We are discouraged we didn't win a stay of execution for wolves," said John Horning, executive director for WildEarth Guardians. "But we are cautiously optimistic that we will win our lawsuit to protect wolves from future persecution." Horning was not specific about his group's next move.
An estimated 1,000 wolves roam Idaho. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has indicated that it will manage wolves so the wolf population remains above 150 animals and 15 breeding pairs.