Wolf hunts are on, but it's uncertain for how long - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wolf hunts are on, but it's uncertain for how long

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The Panhandle area has a 30 wolf quota The Panhandle area has a 30 wolf quota
Demonstrators hold signs showing support for wolf hunts at Friday's rally in Cd'A Demonstrators hold signs showing support for wolf hunts at Friday's rally in Cd'A
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MISSOULA, Mont. - Wolf hunting will begin in the Northern Rockies under a cloud of uncertainty, as a federal judge weighs a request by environmental and animal welfare groups to stop the predators from being killed.

Hunters in Idaho, where up to 220 wolves could be killed, head into the field Tuesday. Montana's season is set to begin September 15, with a quota of 75 wolves.

At the end of a three-hour hearing into whether the hunts should be allowed, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Monday gave no indication as to how he might rule. Molloy says he will decide on an injunction requested by wolf opponents "as quickly as I can."

About 4,000 hunters in Idaho already have bought tags allowing them to kill a wolf. Tags in Montana went on sale Monday.

Wolf hunt rally at Cd'A Fish and Game Office

Members of the Sandpoint-based North Idaho Wolf Alliance turned out at the Coeur d'Alene Fish and Game office Friday morning to protest the state's first regulated wolf hunt. Alongside the protesters was a smaller group who came out to show their support of the upcoming hunts.

Approximately 40 protestors gathered at the scene, while 15 wolf hunt supporters gathered.

The rally, which began at 11 a.m., consisted mainly of protestors and supporters carrying signs.

Permits to hunt wolves went on sale in Idaho on Monday. The season is scheduled to start September 1 in some regions of the state, but environmentalists have filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to stop the public hunts in Idaho and Montana.

Wolves in Montana and Idaho are no longer on the endangered species list.

The wolf hunts in the Panhandle district would run until 2010 or until 30 wolves in that region are killed. Each district in the state determines the number of wolves to be killed based on its wolf population.

Three-hundred wolves in Wyoming remain under federal protection because of a state law there considered hostile to wolves.

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