Reaction to removal of gray wolf from endangered species list
A federal judge last week vacated a Trump administration removal of the gray wolf from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge Jeffrey White found that the “deficiencies in the final rule are serious and weigh in favor of vacatur.”
White wrote that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service analysis “relied on two core wolf populations to delist wolves nationally and failed to provide a reasonable interpretation of the ‘significant portion of its range’ standard.”
The judge’s ruling means that it is once again illegal to kill wolves for sport in all states except the Northern Rockies, where the federal government turned over control of wolf populations to Montana and Idaho in another set of rulemakings several years ago, Animal Wellness Action noted in a news release.
“The federal courts have again demonstrated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has misread the science and the law and prematurely de-listed wolves,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy.
“This restoration of federal protections restores critical protections for wolves, especially in the Great Lakes region, and now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should reassess its misreading of the ongoing assault on wolves by states in the Northern Rockies.”
FOR AND AGAINST
“This is a huge win for gray wolves and the many people across the country who care so deeply about them,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“I hope this ruling finally convinces the Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon its longstanding, misguided efforts to remove federal wolf protections. The agency should work instead to restore these ecologically important top carnivores to places like the southern Rockies and northeastern United States.”
Earthjustice had brought a law suit against the ruling on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and Oregon Wild.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said that Farm Bureau “is extremely disappointed in the ruling to return the gray wolf to the endangered species list.”
“The gray wolf exceeded recovery goals and should be celebrated as an Endangered Species Act success story,” Duvall said. “The ESA is intended to promote species recovery and delisting, not to impose permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. Today’s ruling ignored ESA goals and threatens recovery efforts for other animals.”
“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Management of the fully recovered gray wolf should be overseen by the states, which can best determine the most appropriate course of action for each region,” Duvall said.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council expressed disappointment in the ruling.
“It’s disappointing that environmental activism carried more weight than science in this case. Rather than ruling on due process and adherence to recovery criterion, Judge White chose to remand the rule and undermine one of the most successful ESA recovery stories in United States history,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover.
“This is just another attempt by activist groups to ignore the facts and rewrite the history of gray wolf recovery in the U.S.”
NCBA and PLC said they believe data shows the gray wolf population is recovered and no longer meets requirements for a listing. “Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf population has seen tremendous recovery, exceeding recovery goals by 300%,” the groups said.
“ESA should not be used as a permanent management tool. Today’s decision conflicts with the intended purpose of the act and removes critical management tools for wolves that pose a tremendous threat to farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and vital land and natural resource conservation,” said Glover.
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