U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services has suspended the hunt for two Wallowa County wolves for a month after environmental groups sued the agency to stop the destruction of the wolves suspected of killing calves on Imnaha area ranches.

Wildlife Services spokesman Dave Williams confirmed that the agency has stopped the hunt "to allow the courts to review issues" raised in a request for an injuction filed Thursday, July 1, by four oreganizations.

They are Cascadia Wildlands, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Oregon Wild and the Center for Biological Diversity.

Wildlife Services had been authorized by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to kill the wolves after numerous calves had been killed by wolves on the ranches.

The state has confirmed six kills, while Wildlife Services has put the number at nine. Ranchers, meanwhile, say there were additional kills, but too little evidence was left behind to confirm wolves as the predators.

The environmental groups said in their suit against Wildlife Services that the agency failed to assess the environmental impact of the killings as required in the Oregon Wolf Plan. They said removing two of the 14 known Oregon Canadian grey wolves would have a substantial impact.

Canadian grey wolves are numerous in other northern states.

"Oregon is big enough for people and wolves," insisted Greg Dyson, executive director of the La Grande-based council.

"ODFW is acting too hastily in giving Wildlife Services authority to shoot these wolves before exhausting other management options. We were left with no choice but to protect wolves in court."

The groups pointed out that no livestock killings have occurred for a month. The wolves are believed to be feeding on elk calves.

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