BILLINGS, MONT. — Environmental groups have sued to block a federal rule that would allow state wildlife agents and private citizens to kill more endangered gray wolves in the northern Rockies.
Federal officials want to empower state wildlife agencies to kill off packs of wolves in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana if they are having a "major impact" on big-game herds, particularly elk. The rule also would allow for the killing of wolves caught attacking stock animals or dogs.
Environmental groups say that as many as 600 of the region's 1,500 wolves could be killed. Seven groups announced Monday they had filed suit in U.S. District Court in Missoula to block the rule.
Wolves rebounded from near-extinction in the region over the last decade, after they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.