Ore. Court to Take Up|Gray Wolf Delisting

     (CN) — An Oregon appeals court gave conservation groups another shot at challenging the delisting of gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection.
     Oregon’s gray wolf population has been a contentious issue among conservationists, rural ranchers and farmers, and livestock lobbyists in the state in recent years.
     Native wolves in Oregon had been completely wiped out for more than 60 years before some began migrating from Idaho in 2009. Today, there are believed to be around 120 wolves in the state.
     Last year, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission removed endangered species protections from gray wolves, a decision that was challenged by conservation groups in the state.
     The groups Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition for judicial review with the state’s court of appeals in December 2015.
     But during the 2016 legislative session, the Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill to block judicial review of the wolf delisting.
     In April, the government found the state House bill made the conservationists’ legal challenge moot, and the groups petitioned for reconsideration. The groups have been critical of the political process behind the delisting, which they say ignores the science behind wolf recovery.
     This week, Oregon Court of Appeals Chief Judge Erika Hadlock granted the groups’ petition, finding the issues to be “complex matters of public importance.” The groups’ opening brief is due by August 23.
     Nick Cady, the legal director of Cascadia Wildlands, told Courthouse News that “beyond wolves,” the decision to reconsider the challenge “involves scientific integrity for all endangered species in the state.”
     Meanwhile, Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, “Oregon’s wolves will now get their day in court to reveal the flawed process that stripped their protection.”
     An Oregon Fish & Wildlife representative declined to comment on the ruling.

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