- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) - A judge is reviewing Idaho Fish and Game’s decision to suspend the license of a Cocolalla-based wolf exhibition company that allowed customers to touch the animals.

Department director Virgil Moore signed the suspension in February, saying the company didn’t follow a no-contact order that was part of a 2012 agreement attempting to resolve 43 violations, the Bonner County Daily Bee reported (https://bit.ly/1FnGYJz).

Lawyers for Wolf People filed a challenge to the decision in late March. Attorney Art Bistline said the contact was allowed as long as an employee supervised.

The case is assigned to 2nd District Court Judge Jay Gaskill. The suspension was stayed until May and then stayed again until June 30 so both sides can agree to an expedited briefing schedule, court documents show.

In deciding to suspend the license, Fish and Game said the company failed to prevent visitors from touching the center’s 23 wolves. State officials also said the company violated a 2012 agreement by failing to get a $50,000 bond to guarantee compliance.

“IDFG has established by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondents violated the consent agreement by permitting physical contact with the wolves by the public in the kennel areas and failure to secure a performance bond as required by law,” a hearing officer wrote.

The agreement sought to resolve violations brought against the company, but it primarily cited violations of the hands-off clause. Other violations cited by the state included failing to report the births and deaths of wolves, transporting wolves without permission and failing to report a wolf escape in 2011.

For the judicial review, an opening brief from Wolf People is due on May 22, with a response from Fish and Game due by June 5.

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Information from: Bonner County (Idaho) Daily Bee, https://www.bonnercountydailybee.com

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