Wildlife advocates will be in federal court Tuesday to challenge a move by Congress that stripped gray wolves of their endangered status across most of the Northern Rockies.

The hearing before U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula comes as Idaho and Montana prepare for fall hunts in which hundreds of wolves could be killed.

Molloy has twice blocked attempts to lift protections for the predators. Now he's being asked to consider whether Congress violated the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution with legislation crafted to circumvent Molloy's earlier rulings.

Congress approved a budget bill in April that contained a provision targeting wolves inserted by Western lawmakers.

Wolves were also taken off the endangered species list in Washington, Oregon and Utah, but no hunts are planned in those states.
Associated Press