A federal court judge in Missoula will hear oral arguments on June 15 on whether gray wolves in Montana and Idaho should be removed from the list of animals protected under the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy filed the paperwork today notifying lawyers on both sides of the case to come before him and answer questions or reiterate their arguments before he decides if wolves should be delisted.
Molloy is not expected to rule from the bench.
The crux of the lawsuit, which Earthjustice filed on behalf of 13 conservation and environmental groups, is whether wolves can be delisted in Montana and Idaho, yet remain protected under the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming.
The federal government had included all three states in its initial delisting attempt, but the conservation groups sued and Molloy ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted arbitrarily because of a lack of evidence regarding genetic diversity.
See Tuesday's Independent Record for more details.