U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the U.S. Congress was within its authority to remove Endangered Species Act protection from approximately 1,500 gray wolves in Montana and Idaho. A group of environmental groups had argued that Congress overstepped its bounds when it passed legislation to lift protections. Molloy agreed somewhat with the conservation groups, saying the Congressional rider was "debatable policy change," writing that "inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient" but that it "transgressed" constitutional process.
In his ruling, Molloy said Congress could "involve itself in pending litigation under limited circumstances." He agreed that Congress could, indeed, amend the Endangered Species Act with special exemptions. The broader issue on the constitutionality of move will probably end up in the hands of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Conservationists are expected to file an appeal. Meanwhile, Idaho's official start to a wolf hunt season is scheduled for Aug. 30.