A federal judge has reluctantly upheld a congressional provision that removes federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside Wyoming.
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Montana says precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals required him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the budget provision passed earlier this year.
Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have found to be unconstitutional the provision that strips wolves of their endangered status in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Molloy says he believes the way Congress passed the provision undermines and disrespects the fundamental idea of the rule of law.
Before Congress' action in April, Molloy had twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators.
Conservation groups likely will appeal Wednesday's ruling.