Judge says Bush admin wrong in claiming NW wolves aren’t endangered

Yesterday, a federal judge rescinded the 2003 federal rule downgrading gray wolves in the Northwest U.S. from endangered to threatened under the Endangered Species Act, saying the Bush administration’s decision was “not based on the present or future threats to the wolf or the best available science.” Interior Secretary Gale Norton based the move on thriving wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains — in effect, said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity, “gerrymander[ing] the entire contiguous 48 states so that wolves in a few areas would make up for the absence of wolves in much-larger regions.” The judge’s decision also reverses a rule allowing ranchers in some parts of the West to shoot wolves that threaten their livestock. Ranchers upset by the ruling hinted that they might break the law. Glen Stonebrink of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association said ranchers “have to keep [wolves] from becoming established here, and I only know one way to do that.”