PHOTOS: Ten Environmental Losses of 2009

PHOTOS: Ten Environmental Losses of 2009
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Wolves Lose Protection, Hunts Begin

In May the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service formally removed the gray wolf in the northern Rockies from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, which some conservationists saw as a loss for the environment. A few months late, wildlife managers in Idaho and Montana approved the first wolf hunts in decades.

Hunters began legally pursuing wolves on September 1 in Idaho. As of November 30, 114 wolves had been killed in Idaho. Montana's season closed November 16 with 74 killed.

A coalition of conservation groups, including Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, had lost a court appeal to halt the hunts. The groups argue that the hunts will likely genetically isolate subgroups of the wolf population, threatening its ability to recover to sustainable levels.

"Although the court's decision to leave wolves unprotected is a setback for recovery, we hope it is a temporary one," Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a media statement.
—Photograph from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP
 
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