WASHINGTON (August 31, 2012) – Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it is publishing its final delisting rule to strip federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming.
The following is a statement from Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife and former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
“Today’s removal of wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list is a tragic ending to what has otherwise been one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories. The Obama administration is allowing an important, iconic species to be wiped out from most of the state, including from large tracts of our national forests and other public lands where wildlife management is supposed to be a priority. This administration is rewinding the clock and setting wolf recovery back at least a decade based on the numbers alone. The goal should be to sustain a fully recovered wolf population, not put it right back on life support.
“We’ve already seen what state wolf management looks like in Idaho and Montana, and it isn’t pretty. Over the past year, more than 500 wolves were killed in those two states, and both are making it even easier to hunt and trap wolves next year. Now Wyoming is entering this ugly race to the bottom with a plan to ban wolves from most of the state through unrestricted killing.
“This is a low point in the modern history of wildlife conservation and a stunning move by an administration that vowed to be guided by sound science. We tried to work with the Obama administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state agencies to develop and implement more responsible wolf management plans, but we were dismissed. Now we are left with no choice but to pursue legal action to ensure that a healthy, sustainable wolf population remains in Wyoming and across the Northern Rockies for many generations to come.
“As a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service and someone who actually participated in the release of wolves into Yellowstone, it is a particularly sad day for me. It’s time to end the war on wolves and start fighting to preserve America’s wildlife heritage. The American people have invested too much to see these ecologically important animals so carelessly destroyed.”
Wyoming’s approved wolf management plan creates a “predator zone” across more than 80 percent of the state where wolves can be killed anytime by almost any means, including aerial gunning, trapping, even gassing pups in their dens. The state’s goal is to reduce the population outside of Yellowstone National Park by more than 60 percent, leaving just 100 wolves. The hunting season begins on Oct. 1 and would allow up to 52 wolves to be killed in the first year within the trophy game management area, including along the boundaries of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and within several national forests. No other native species is persecuted like this and managed around a biological minimum. Wolves play a vital role in creating healthy ecosystems by helping to maintain nature’s balance.
Gray wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 after being exterminated in the 1930s. The USFWS estimated there were a minimum of 328 wolves in Wyoming at the end of 2011, including 98 within Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife managers estimate there are currently about 270 wolves outside of Yellowstone.
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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 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 .