Commentary: Of wolf hunts, endangered species and states' rights

While sorting through two weeks of vacation e-mail deadfall, one news release quote caught my attention.

On Aug. 5, Idaho's congressional delegation joined in bipartisan unison to criticize Missoula, Mont.-based U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy, who put an abrupt halt to Idaho's wolf hunts by returning this polarizing predator to the federal government's endangered species list.

"Judge Molloy ignored the exploding population of wolves in Idaho and the constitutional 10th Amendment right of a state to manage its own wildlife populations," said the delegation.

Yes, there are states' rights issues at play. And that is precisely why Idaho is stuck with an unpopular ruling - and another installment in the wolf controversy.

The villain here is not Molloy. It's Wyoming.

Idaho's neighbor to the east has asserted its sovereign right to be a nuisance throughout the whole wolf reintroduction process. The plan that passes for wolf "management" in Wyoming decrees that this animal can essentially be shot on sight.

There's no mistaking the message (or the gesture) encrypted in the Wyoming lock-and-load approach. But this also represented, perhaps unwittingly, an insult to politicians and wildlife managers in Idaho and Montana, who tried to craft wolf plans that balanced hunting and wolf control against sustainable population management.

Wyoming forced the feds' hands. And ultimately, Wyoming forced Molloy's hands as well.

To read the complete column, visit www.idahostatesman.com.