U.S. Fish/Wildlife Ignores Need

March 18, 2009

Delisting Wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes
SILVER CITY, N.M.— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today moved forward with a Bush administration plan for removing gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and the upper Midwest from the list of endangered species.

“Today’s announcement means wolves will lose their federal protections before recovery is complete,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “And, as we saw last year before a federal judge reversed a Bush administration delisting rule, that will result in an unconstrained and unconscionable slaughter of these animals.”

“It is disappointing that the Obama administration is choosing to follow a bad Bush policy to piecemeal wolf conservation efforts instead of prioritizing the development of a national wolf recovery plan.”

Wolves will lose protection in most of their remaining range, seriously undermining efforts to conserve wolves in portions of their historic range where they no longer occur. 

According to Robinson, “It’s a shame that the agency has abandoned a larger recovery effort to the many places, such as the Northeastern United States, southern Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Sierra Nevada, where wolves could survive.”

Even in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes where numbers of wolves have substantially increased, it is questionable whether they are fully recovered. Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains number fewer than 200 breeding animals, far below the thousands that independent biologists have determined are necessary to avoid long-term genetic problems and decline, and the state of Idaho plans to kill many of the wolves in their state.  Likewise, state plans in the Great Lakes states will allow killing of many wolves, even as disease is resulting in loss of many wolf pups. The severity of these threats suggests that wolves will not see any further recovery.  

This is the third time the agency has tried to remove protection for wolves and each time it has lost in court.