Congress Pushes Plans to Remove Federal Protections for Wyoming and Great Lakes Wolves

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: February 12, 2015

Contact: Melanie Gade, mgade@defenders.org; (202) 772-0288

Congress Pushes Plans to Remove Federal Protections for Wyoming and Great Lakes Wolves

WASHINGTON – Two separate pieces of legislation to eliminate federal protections for wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming were introduced in Congress this week. These two pieces of legislation, the first sponsored by Representative Kline (R-MN) focused on removing protections in the Great Lakes states, and the second by Representatives Ribble (R-WI) and Lummis (R-WY) that would encompass the Great Lakes and Wyoming both, come just a few months after courts set aside rules that delisted wolves in those regions, keeping wolves protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:

“Representatives Ribble, Lummis and Kline are not scientists and should not attempt a political end run around  what should be a science-based decision on the status of a listed species under the Endangered Species Act. Congressional delisting of wolves under the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming and the Great Lakes will surely throw open the floodgates to endless proposals to delist additional species based upon politics and not science, undermining the integrity of the act and our ability to conserve the nation’s most imperiled wildlife. 

“The Obama administration should strongly oppose all Congressional efforts to delist wolves and other species. Wolves are an iconic American species, not a political bargaining chip.”

Background:

In 2011, Congress took unprecedented action to delist wolves in Idaho, Montana, a small section of northern Utah, and the eastern portion of Washington and Oregon. Aggressive wolf killing programs have since been implemented in Idaho and Montana with the intent of dramatically driving down wolf populations.

Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated on September 23, 2014 after a judge invalidated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 statewide ESA delisting of the species. In December 2014, a second federal judge overturned the Service’s December 2011 decision to delist the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. In both instances, the courts ruled that the Service had failed to comply with various provisions of current law.

Gray wolves were once common throughout all of North America, but with the exception of a small remnant population in northern Minnesota, they were eliminated from the lower-48 states by the middle of the last century. Today, wolves only inhabit approximately 36 percent of their suitable habitat. Defenders advocates for the restoration of wolf populations in appropriate suitable habitat that still exists in Colorado and parts of California, Oregon, Washington and Utah.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.