A federal judge in Montana has rejected a request by the government to delay a lawsuit seeking to place the gray wolf back on the endangered species list, saying he's "unwilling to risk more deaths."
At least 39 of the Northern Rockies' 1,500 gray wolves have been killed since they lost federal protection in March. That action placed wolves under the authority of state wildlife agencies in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
All three states have relaxed rules for killings wolves that harass or harm livestock and are planning public hunts later this year — the first in decades.
Environmentalists argue the loss of federal protection threatens the wolf's recovery.
In rejecting the government's request for a two-week extension, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy set a hearing for May 29 in Missoula.