Federal wolf plan turns a blind eye to the law–and stewardship of the species
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE • January 29, 2007
For more information contact: Rob Edward | 303.447.8655 ext. 2#
Click here to download a copy of the government’s proposal [PDF].
Boulder, CO – Despite being protected by federal law for over 30 years, gray wolves in the lower forty-eight states presently occupy less than five percent of their historic range. When measured against the definition of “recovery” outlined in the Endangered Species Act, the effort to recover wolves has a long way to go. In fact, the law requires that listed species (e.g. wolves) must be restored to “all or a significant portion of their former range” before being removed from the endangered species list. Yet, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today announced that five percent is more than enough for wolves. Moreover, the agency’s announcement underscores a glaring double standard for wolves, when compared to similar decisions for other wide-ranging species that remained protected until they again occupied nearly all of their historic range.
“The government has turned its back on wolf recovery,” said Rob Edward, Director of Carnivore Restoration for Sinapu. Edward argues that the government is misapplying an obscure policy for endangered species in order to strip the only wolves residing in North America of their protections. He also believes that the proposal to eliminate protections for the species will set the stage for a massive campaign by the livestock industry to drastically reduce the number of wolves in Wyoming and Idaho.
“The government is ready to abandon the fate of wolves to institutions that believe it is still 1870,” said Edward. For example, Idaho Governor Butch Otter recently stated during an anti-wolf rally that he wants to be one of the first to legally kill a wolf in his state. Likewise, Wyoming lawmakers are presently circulating at least two proposals that would allow the unregulated killing of wolves in most of the state. Such measures and attitudes make clear that the beleaguered species still warrants protection. Edward believes that giving Idaho and Wyoming control of wolf management will ensure that the species never re-occupies the other parts of it’s former range. “The nation’s progress toward wolf recovery will grind to a halt under this plan,” said Edward.
Edward argues that the conservation mandate of the Endangered Species Act is unequivocal, and that it sets a reasonable standard for recovery of imperiled species. “The government has a proud track record for recovering wide-ranging species within the mandate of the law,” said Edward. “The Brown Pelican, the American Alligator and the Peregrine Falcon are prime examples of recovered species that now occupy nearly all of their historic range. Yet, because the livestock industry refuses to tolerate wolves, the government has set the bar much lower, and moved much slower.”
Edward and his conservation colleagues insist that wolves can easily be restored to places like Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, but for the intransigence of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. “Rather than washing their hands of wolf stewardship,” said Edward, “the government should reintroduce wolves to Colorado and other places, and should let them thrive without threat of persecution.” Moreover, Edward argues, removing protections from existing populations of wolves reduces the likelihood that wolves could successfully re-occupy habitat in places such as northern Colorado.
If the federal plan to strip wolves of their protections is finalized (a decision that may not come for a year or more), Edward asserts that Sinapu and other conservation organizations will file suit in federal court to reverse the decision.