When it comes to wolves, the job is not done

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].

Yellowostone Reintroduction (Photo: USFWS)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.

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11 responses to “When it comes to wolves, the job is not done

  1. Pingback: Headline News

  2. The government and its policies should be controlled by the people and their wants, not the by the industries and their money. It sickens me that things like this are happening in the United States. This is not democracy.

  3. Brandon Gideon

    Its the most tragic choice of action in my opinion that I’ve heard on the news so far. Wolves are very magestic animals and I’m very angry that they would lift the protection on them. How much longer do we have to stand for dumb choices that will effect us all? When I grow up, I will do somthing to help wolves.

  4. Pingback: Wolves in the News « Wild Again!!

  5. The Idaho and Wyoming Fish and Game are letting people like Ron Gillett and the rest of the Anti-Wolf Coalition determine the fate of the wolf.
    We are repeating history only this time this will be the end of the journey for the wolf if we let them win. Once they start their hunt there will be no end to the blood and slaughter untill they are all gone.

    Quote from Ron Gillett: (head of the Anti-Wolf Coalition)
    “I want to see every last wolf dead”

    There are fewer numbers in those who don’t want the wolf there than there are of us who want the wolf to remain. Only difference is they have have the money and the backing to go forward with it. Like having Mr. C. L. Otter for one on their sides. To them our voice means nothing.
    Quote:

    “Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland presented the bill to Committee that outlined the aggressive wolf management tactics and called for the use of GPS monitoring devices on gray wolves. Travel Committee Chairman Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, sponsored the bill, which would cost the state an estimated $2.4 million.”

    2.4 million dollars to sponsor a bill to kill our wolves. This is unbelievable! Why not take that money and move them to other areas like Rob said. Wolves use to roam all over the united states now they are limited to only small areas in 3-4 states. Ranchers were first complaining that the wolves are killing their livestock now the reason for delisting is Elk. Which is it? I for one am totally against taking them off the ESA. They talk about only keeping 10-15 packs, What happends to the pups do they die or is it the older one that die when they go beyond thier numbers?
    I think if you are against this then everyone should write in and protest this, even boycott Idaho. Stand up for the wolves if your really inspired to saving them. Be heard… Be loud in what you think is right.

  6. Adair Wadkins

    I have had wolves on my property off and on since I bought it in 2004. They have never bothered me or anything such as my horses.

    I think it is a terrible thing to delist the wolves; mainly, because the people here are ignorant about them and do not care to learn about them or tolerate them. In fact, they hardly tolerate any animal here except elk.

    We need a lot of education and change of attitude in the state of Idaho.

    If there is anything I can do to help the wolves and prevent ignorant people from shooting them, I would like to do it. Please let me know.

    Adair Wadkins

  7. Let’s see 4-5 times as many as originally called for are not enough?

    [Editor’s reply: Dora, that’s the problem. The law does not speak to numbers at all; the recovery goals are just that, regional targets. De-listing, however, must take place in the context of the entire listed population, which includes all of the lower forty eight states. The government should have made that clear from the outset. Their plan, as outlined presently, is illegal, and if implemented will not further the recovery of the species. If, instead, the government were to focus on restoring more wolves to more places (e.g. the Southern Rockies), they could very quickly get to the point of a justifiable nation-wide de-listing–and that is what we will fight for.]

  8. It is sad to see all of the good work and taxpayer dollars spent restoring wolves to this very small portion of their former range (less than 5%!!) wasted by a decision to prematurely remove protection from these populations. It is a shame to see management of these populations handed over to agencies whose stated intentions are so obviously negative. More than anything, it is disappointing to see that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lacks the stomach to follow the law and fulfil the directive of the Endangered Species Act. Shame on them for choosing, once again, to cave to the bawling of the livestock industry.

  9. The state management ‘posture’ in Idaho and Wyoming is clear – it is unfortunate that the feds are seemingly unwilling to recognize this – or do anything about it.

  10. According to Idaho Department of Fish and Game at their Press Conference that I attended today, they are definitely going to go after wolves in what they have dubbed conflict areas. Of course, the “conflict area” is defined as where public lands ranchers complain the loudest.

    Specifically, IDFG said they are going to “knock them down” in those areas. That is not wolf management based on species biology – but pure politics.