A federal judge has reluctantly ruled to uphold a congressional budget provision that removed federal protections for the Northern Rockies gray wolf outside of Wyoming.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy says that binding precedent by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals requires him to rule against a constitutional challenge of the rider passed by Congress earlier this year.

Molloy wrote in his order Wednesday that without that precedent, he would have ruled 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.

Associated Press