Big, Big News.
30 minutes ago, we found out that we have won in court when it comes to wolves and wolf delisting. The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco clearly supported the legality of the Congressional action to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies. The opinion, written by Judge Schroeder, dated March 14, 2012, ruled that Section 1731 (the wolf bill) was constitutional and that this action by Congress to delist wolves in the Northern Rockies was fully legal. This is a huge victory for wildlife conservation and will allow wolf management to continue in Montana and Idaho. It also protects Wyoming's legal victory and leaves the door open for a Wyoming delisting later this year.
As many of you are aware, Big Game Forever and other conservation organizations, including partner organizations Sportsmen for Fish and Widllife and Mule Deer Foundation are parties to this litigation.
This particular legal challenge attacked various aspects of the constitutionality of the wolf bill in Congress. This particular case began last year in Judge Molloy's court in the Western District of Montana. Judge Molloy ruled that Congress has full authority to amend its own laws, including the Endangered Species Act, and that the delisting by Congress was constitutional. The case was appealed to the 9th circuit, where the constitutionality of Section 1731 was once again challenged. The court also ruled that Congress did amend the endangered species act through this action to the extent it was inconsistent with the Congressional delisting language. While it is entirely possible that this case may be appealed to the Supreme Court, the victories at the district court level and at the 9th circuit are a great sign. We have believed throughout this process in the strength of our position and the legal arguments supporting that position. To this point, the courts have agreed with our position.
Here is a quote from the ruling:
Appellants’ arguments that Section 1713 is a repeal rather than an amendment must fail for a similar reason. Congress did not repeal any part of the ESA. Rather, Congress effectively provided that no statute, and this must include the ESA, would apply to the 2009 rule. Congress thus amended the law applicable to the agency action.
Appellants also contend that the meaning and effect of the 2009 Rule as reissued under Section 1713 are unclear, and that ambiguity prevents the court from finding an amendment. We cannot agree. The meaning and intended effect of Section 1713 are perfectly clear. The partial delisting was to take effect within 60 days, with no court review or interference....
...Finally, we observe that while Section 1713 bars judicial review of the reissuance of the 2009 Rule, the 2009 Rule does provide standards
by which the agency is to evaluate the continuing viability of wolves in Montana and Idaho. See, e.g., 74 Fed. Reg. 15,123 at 15,186.
Review of any regulations issued pursuant to the Rule or of agency compliance with the standards, does not appear to be restricted.
Section 1713 itself, however, ordering the Rule to issue without regard to the laws that might otherwise apply, is entitled to be enforced.
The bottom line is that once again, the courts have ruled in favor of wolf delisting. Wolf management will continue in the Northern Rockies by state fish and game agencies including regulated hunting by sportsmen.
Thank you for your ongoing support. We will continue to keep you apprised of developments as they arise.
A great victory for healthy wildlife populations and for our outdoor heritage.