Stop Attacks On Endangered Gray Wolves | Help Wildlife, Protect the Environment, Support Nature Conservation, Save the Planet

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Stop Attacks On Endangered Gray Wolves

U.S. Fish and Wildlife just announced their plans to start a process to strip Endangered Species protections from all gray wolves in the lower 48. Tell USFWS: don’t delist!
Why This Matters

Republican leadership will go to any lengths to undercut still-needed protections for struggling wildlife. This fall, House Republicans tried to pass legislation that would remove all gray wolves from the Endangered Species List while gutting the public’s ability to defend wildlife in court — first in a standalone bill, then hidden as riders in the House spending bill.

Thanks to the over 46,000 of you who wrote letters and made phone calls in opposition to these Congressional attacks on gray wolves, the riders were removed from the must-pass spending bill. So now, U.S. Fish and Wildlife is seeking to remove gray wolves’ Endangered Species protections through an administrative delisting process.

Gray wolves are just starting to recover after human persecution brought them to the brink of extinction. In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost Endangered Species protections, trophy hunters, trappers, and others have killed more than 3,200 of them just since 2011. We already know what horrors will occur if we let the Trump administration get its way — we must push back to save the future of this magnificent, struggling species.

Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Everson: Gray wolves need Endangered Species protections to survive — don’t delist!

Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife: Gray wolves still need Endangered Species protection — don’t delist!

To: USFWS Deputy Director Margaret Everson

Gray wolves need Endangered Species Act protections to survive — don’t delist!

Read entire petition

Dear Principal Deputy Director Everson,

I am strongly opposed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the continental U.S. at once.

Wolves have just begun to recover in some areas of the country. Since the effort to restore wolf populations began in the 1980’s, we have had some great successes, and we now have wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and the Midwest. But it is too soon to remove wolves from the Endangered Species list, as several courts have confirmed. Continued federal protections are critical to securing the fragile recovery of existing wolf populations and allowing wolves to expand into other suitable habitats.

In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost federal protections, trophy hunters, trappers, and others have killed more than 3,200 of them since 2011. Endangered Species Act protections are still essential to help wolves return to remaining suitable lands where they used to roam, just as the bald eagle was allowed to expand before its federal protections were removed.

Wolves are the wild ancestors of all the domestic dogs we know and love today. Polls and studies show that a majority of the public highly value wolves. These remarkable creatures are icons of our landscape and their presence is vital to maintaining the balance of their native ecosystems.

I urge you to uphold protections for vulnerable gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act to allow for continued recovery of this majestic, misunderstood species. Please, stop the delisting process.

Sign Petition

https://addup.sierraclub.org/campaigns/take-action-to-protect-wolves/petition/tell-us-fish-and-wildlife-gray-wolves-still-need-endangered-species-protection-dont-delist

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Trump Administration Wants More Wolves off Endangered Species List

The Trump administration is proposing to remove the remaining federal protections for wolves, just as it attempted to do with grizzlies in late 2018. In March, acting interior secretary David Bernhardt announced that the US Fish and Wildlife Service would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Lower 48. The move by the federal government is the latest in a long-standing battle among conservationists, hunters, and ranchers.

Tell U.S. Fish and Wildlife Principal Deputy Director Everson: Gray wolves need Endangered Species protections to survive.

Since 1978, the FWS has actively managed three regional wolf populations for recovery: in the Northern Rockies, the Great Lakes region, and the Southwest, where the Mexican gray wolf subspecies resides. In 2003, the FWS deemed wolf populations healthy enough to change their ESA status from endangered to threatened, which sparked a 15-year-long legal battle between the agency and wildlife conservation groups. In 2011, Congress took the unusual step of delisting a nationally protected species in a single region—the gray wolves in the Northern Rockies—when it tacked a controversial rider on to the budget bill. That allowed states like Idaho and Montana to begin preparing their own management plans.

But almost every time the FWS has moved to drop wolves from the ESA, federal courts have struck down the proposals. For example, in 2013, the Obama administration proposed removing gray wolves’ endangered status across the contiguous United States, in all areas outside of designated Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes protected regions. A federal court reversed that decision in 2014. The ruling argued that the FWS failed to account for the impact of historical range loss, and also for how a partial delisting would impact the species nationwide. Then in 2017, the FWS stripped protections for Wyoming’s wolves, leading the state to adopt a notoriously lethal “predator management” plan, which has already resulted in a 25 percent decrease in the state’s wolf population.

In Montana and Idaho, wolf hunting has been on the rise in accordance with the new state management plans, although to a lesser degree than in Wyoming. According to Earthjustice, around 3,500 wolves have been killed since 2011 in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming following the loss of federal protections. Currently, gray wolves have been delisted in Idaho, Montana, eastern Oregon, north central Utah, eastern Washington, and Wyoming, while retaining threatened status in Minnesota.

In its latest proposal, the Trump administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service argues that, based on the best available science and commercial information, gray wolves have sufficiently recovered. “Thanks to the partnerships involving states, tribes, conservation organizations, and private landowners galvanized under the ESA, the service is now able to propose turning management of all gray wolves back to the states and tribes who have been so central to the species’ recovery,” reads a FWS statement.

The proposal argues that under the ESA, the FWS is not required to restore a species to its entire historical range but rather to establish the species viability in the wild; the agency states, “there is no uniform definition for recovery and how recovery must be achieved.” The proposal acknowledges that a rise in legal human-caused mortality will follow the delisting but argues that “the high reproductive potential of wolves, and the innate behavior of wolves to disperse and locate social openings, allows wolf populations to withstand relatively high rates of human-caused mortality.”

That claim is one that wildlife advocates fiercely dispute, and they will likely continue to do so in the coming weeks when, per departmental regulations, scientific peer review and public comment periods are underway.

The FWS declined to be interviewed or respond to questions via email for this story. David Bernhardt, the former oil lobbyist currently leading the Interior Department and under fire for ties to industry, said in a press release, “The facts are clear and indisputable—the gray wolf no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species. Today the wolf is thriving on its vast range, and it is reasonable to conclude it will continue to do so in the future.”

Conservation groups have balked at the Trump administration proposal, which, they say, would reverse wolves’ hard-won gains. Sylvia Fallon, senior director of the wildlife division at the National Resources Defense Council, says that the FWS has long resisted calls to implement a nationwide recovery plan, instead favoring piecemeal, regional management, even though the conservation community provided a road map to national recovery and management.

“I think [FWS wolf management] is a real truncated version of recovery and does not really bring the species to its full potential of recovery,” Fallon says. “For wolves to be recovered nationally, we would like to see them occupying the remaining available habitat in their historic range.” Fallon points to areas like Colorado, the Northeast, and parts of California as having ample suitable habitat for wolf rehabilitation.

At the time of European contact, there may have been as many as 2 million wolves inhabiting North America. After a centuries-long extermination campaign, wolf populations hit a nadir of around 1,000 animals, mostly living in the north woods of Minnesota, in the early 20th century. Today, an estimated 6,000 wolves are spread across the Lower 48. There are as many as 11,000 wolves in Alaska, where the species has never had ESA protection. According to Alaska Fish and Game, about 1,300 wolves are killed by hunters and trappers annually in the state, with up to 200 more taken by wildlife managers each year. Today, wolves occupy somewhere between 5 and 15 percent of their historical range across the Lower 48.

Colette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, agrees that more historical range could support wolves. Adkins sees this latest delisting effort as largely political, characteristic of a distinctly antiscience administration.

“We know from experience that states can’t be trusted to sustainably manage wolves,” Adkins says. “When they lose their federal protections, they get subjected to aggressive trophy hunting, trapping, killing at the behest of the agricultural [livestock] industry.” Adkins points to Wisconsin, where the predator management plan aims for 350 wolves, or less than half of the population of roughly 900. She acknowledges that some states offer strong protections, but that those tend to be in areas where the animal is scarce, such as California and Colorado.

To a large extent, wolves will always be a highly contentious issue. Many cattle ranchers and sheep herders have long opposed the presence of wolves on the landscape. Fallon has seen some encouraging dialogue between ranchers and wolf advocates and is hopeful that people and wolves can coexist. “We’ve actually seen a lot of progress in the Northern Rockies in the last couple of years with ranchers making some changes to their practices,” Fallon says. “I think there’s huge potential there—particularly if we can help provide resources to help ranchers implement these nonlethal practices, to prevent conflicts from happening in the first place.”

In some areas, compensation programs provide cash payments to ranchers if it’s confirmed that wolves killed their livestock. By providing reimbursement, conservationists and managers are hoping to ease the pressure from industry and help assuage vitriol against wolves. But while some programs have been hailed as successful, not everyone in pleased. In Oregon, critics fear that the program is being abused by ranchers, while ranchers counter that livestock kills and wolf populations are undercounted.

Adkins is skeptical about the prospect for reaching consensus with the livestock industry. She emphasizes that there’s ample public support for wolf conservation. “The first step is to try to make sure that this proposal is never finalized at all,” she says. “But if the Fish and Wildlife Service does go ahead with the final rule, absolutely we will bring them to court.”

Earthjustice has a useful timeline of the wolf saga here.

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/trump-administration-wants-more-wolves-endangered-species-list

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