ST. PAUL (AP) -- A Ramsey County District Court judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to strike down a state wolf management plan that was included in a separate legislative bill.
Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman said animal-rights and environmental groups failed to demonstrate that the bill approved by the 2000 Legislature was an example of "log-rolling," in which unrelated subjects are lumped into one bill.
The groups contended that legislators, frustrated in their attempts to pass a wolf-management plan, violated the state Constitution by attaching it to a more popular fish and wildlife funding bill. The bill included a lottery tax dedication to natural resources and a clarification on a new law allowing lighted fishing lures.
Bjorkman said all the issues fall under the broad subject of "natural resources" and that -- while the result of political compromise -- the wolf management plan had been debated extensively.
"In short, the legislators knew what they were doing," Bjorkman said.
Betsy Schmiesing, a Minneapolis lawyer representing the animal-rights and environmental groups, said they probably will appeal.
"The wolf management plan consistently failed to pass until it was attached to a much more popular provision," Schmiesing said. "That is the sort of trade-off that the log-rolling provision in the Constitution is meant to preclude."
Last year, the state Supreme Court struck down part of a wage-protection law because it was lumped in an unrelated tax bill.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to change the gray wolf's protection status across much of the nation from endangered to threatened -- as it already is in Minnesota -- as a first step toward returning control of wolf populations to states. First, however, it must approve Minnesota's state plan.
The Legislature's wolf management plan breaks the state into two zones, each providing different levels of protection.
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