Environmentalists were dealt a legal blow Jan. 17 when a U.S. District Court judge denied its bid for a temporary restraining order to stop the state of Idaho and the U.S. government from allowing a professional wolf hunter to continue using public properties and lands in his effort to kill wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
The suit was filed Jan. 6 by a group of conservationists—including Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project, Wilderness Watch and the Center for Biological Diversity—asking for an immediate injunction to stop the hunt.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game argued that the hunts would help recover the region's elk populations, and that by contracting with a professional hunter and trapper, the state would save money in its wolf management program. But the conservation groups said the hunter's use of federal backcountry airstrips and a cabin demonstrates that the U.S. government approves of the controversial plan.
The hunter, Gus Thoreson, of Salmon, flew into two backcountry airstrips in December before heading out with a team of three mules to reach a remote Forest Service ranger cabin.
But in his ruling, handed down late Friday, U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge ruled that "evidence in the current record shows that the IDFG program for hunting wolves will not result in the loss of the species as a whole."