Today, a federal district court in California struck down the controversial 2020 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicethat removed Endangered Species Actprotections from gray wolves across much of the United States. The monumental decision came after Earthjusticeand a number of conservation organizations sued the agency on January 14, 2021.
In response to this decision, which reinstated protections for gray wolves in most states, but not in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho, where the bulk of the U.S. wolf population lives and where hunts permit the killing of up to 90% of the species, the #RelistWolves Campaign has released the following statement.
“While we are pleased that this ruling will offer protections to some wolves in the United States, it is unconscionable to see how the federal government continues to ignore the plight of wolves in the Northern Rockies, including the greater Yellowstone area.
“These wolves, which were originally delisted in 2009, have faced brutal attacks from increasingly aggressive hunting legislation in the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Wyoming allows a virtually unrestricted hunt. Montana has authorized hunters to slaughter up to 85% of wolves, and even permits baiting, trapping, and hunting on the border of Yellowstone National Park. In Idaho, where the state is offering a bounty of up to $2,500 for each wolf killed, hunters may slaughter up to 90% of the state’s wolf population using unethical hunting practices such as snaring, chasing wolves down with ATVs, and shooting them from helicopters. These extreme hunts are devastating the wolf population in the Yellowstone region. Hunters have recently killed 119 wolves in Wyoming, 229 in Montana, and 452 in Idaho. In addition, 24 Yellowstone wolves have been killed on the border of the park just this season alone.
“In the face of these catastrophic hunts, wolves in the Yellowstone region need federal protections. The court’s ruling does not offer protections to wolves in Wyoming, Montana, or Idaho. In these states, hunts will continue to decimate the species. Not only will these hunts threaten the whole Yellowstone ecosystem, due to the wolf’s role as a keystone species, but they continue to slaughter a sacred species without the consent or consultation of the Tribal nations who have demanded a place at the table in wolf management decision making.
“The EarthJustice legal brief identified the failure of states like Idaho and Montana to sustainably and collaboratively manage their wolf populations as a key reason to reverse the USFWS 2020 decision that left wolf management up to the states. Nevertheless, this ruling continues to allow these very same states to mismanage the species, even as it restores federal protections for wolves elsewhere.
“Wildlife does not know state boundaries. Under the current ruling, a wolf that is protected when it is in Oregon could be shot as soon as it wanders across the border into Idaho. A piecemeal relisting will not protect the species. The Department of the Interior has the authority to relist the species across the country, and we will continue the fight to restore protections for all wolves, especially the wolves still in jeopardy in the Yellowstone region.”
“While it is good news that a federal court in California has overturned the delisting of wolves in much of the United States, this sadly does not apply to wolves that are still under attack in the Northern Rockies of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where there is state-sponsored wolf hunting,” stated Katie Cleary, President and Founder of Peace 4 Animals & World Animal News. “If we are going to save this precious species from extinction in the wild, federal protections must be enacted. This is one of the many reasons why Peace 4 Animals joined the #RelistWolves Campaign last year to collaborate with like-minded individuals fighting to restore protections and peace for wolves throughout the United States. We will continue to fight until wolves are protected in every state and the senseless slaughter ends.”