Rift in Oregon’s stance on gray wolves

FILE - This March 13, 2014 file photo provided by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shows a female wolf from the Minam pack outside La Grande, Ore., after it was fitted with a tracking collar. The director of Oregon's wildlife department has told the federal government the state agency supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to take the gray wolf off the endangered species list, drawing fire from conservation groups and an Oregon congressman. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via AP, file)

SALEM — The Oregon Court of Appeals has dismissed a lawsuit filed by environmental groups challenging the state’s decision to lift endangered species protections for gray wolves.

State wildlife officials removed wolves from Oregon’s endangered species list in 2015 and lawmakers passed a bill backing that move in 2016.

Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity sued, arguing the delisting was premature and not based on sound science.

The appeals court says the legislative bill makes the environmentalists’ lawsuit irrelevant.

Wolves are still federally protected as an endangered species in western Oregon.

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