What's at Stake
The wolf is an apex predator that plays a critical role in the ecological system. Wolves benefit the health of elk and deer populations by primarily hunting animals that are old, very young, injured, or diseased, leaving the healthiest animals to produce the next generation.
Wyoming's wolves are protected by the federal government. The state wants to take over management and allow the killing of wolves. The Fish and Wildlife Service denied Wyoming's plan; ranchers, farmers, and others filed suit; and Earthjustice intervened to assure a stout defense of the wolves.
This continues a long string of cases and other activity by Earthjustice to protect wolf populations that either transplanted themselves from Canada or were deliberately introduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho during the Clinton administration.
They have had a benign effect on the native ecosystems where they have reestablished themselves, but have drawn murderous scorn from livestock growers who exaggerate the threat they pose to sheep and cattle.
As part of federal budget negotiations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has introduced a proposal to remove Endangered Species Act Protections for grey wolves across the country. This would be a serious setback to decades of conservation efforts, and Earthjustice is preparing a legal challenge in case the proposal passes.
A federal decision allowing Wyoming to remove its grey wolves from the Endangered Species List is being challenged in court by several conservation groups. The groups filed suit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking to reinstate protections for the wolves and stop the policy under which at least 49 wolves have been killed since Wyoming took over the population management in October.