Gray wolves have come perilously close to extinction in the Rocky Mountains. Only in the past decade has the wolf population rebounded from a population of less than 50 to more than 1,500 wolves today. Visitors come to Yellowstone every year to get the chance to see and hear wolves in the wild.
In September, 2008, the Bush administration moved to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves, by asking a federal court for permission to withdraw its March 2008 decision to drop protections for wolves in the northern Rockies. On March 6, 2009, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar affirmed the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species in the western Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho and Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.
Once again, Earthjustice has turned to the courts to protect the gray wolves of the northern Rockies from attempts to deprive wolves of necessary legal and habitat protections. On June 2, 2009, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of conservation groups challenging the decision to delist the wolves. In August 2009, Earthjustice sought an emergency injunction to halt wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.
If the Obama administration has its way, one of Oregon’s most popular travelers—OR-7—could be a goner. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed eliminating federal endangered species listing for wolves across nearly the entire continental U.S., handing protections to the states.
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.
In Wyoming, wolves that were federally protected on Sept. 30 became legal vermin overnight—subject to being shot on sight in approximately 90 percent of the state as of Oct. 1. In the remaining 10 percent of Wyoming, wolf hunting season opened for the first time since the gray wolf was eradicated from the state in the early 1900s. Fifty-two wolves are expected to be killed in the “trophy zone” hunting season and dozens more in the free-fire “predator zone” over the coming weeks.