The gray wolf species in the Northern Rockies has faced its most severe threat in a century. While an Earthjustice lawsuit recently restored protections for wolves in 44 states, due to a series of administrative and legislative maneuvers over the past decade, wolves remain unprotected in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and portions of several adjacent states. We are calling for federal Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies.
In Montana alone, more than 250 wolves have been killed statewide since the hunting and trapping seasons opened in the fall. In Idaho, data shows that over 310 wolves were killed statewide from the start of the season in the fall through the beginning of February, but many more have likely been killed since.
It is time to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act protections for the Northern Rockies’ gray wolves who have suffered too long under hostile state management. These impacts have been exacerbated by aggressive wolf-killing legislation passed last year in Montana and Idaho. These new laws aggressively expand how, when, and where wolves can be trapped, snared, and killed regardless of consequences to wolves and other species. In Idaho, we have filed suit on behalf of thirteen conservation groups to fight back against the expansive wolf trapping that also captures, injures, and kills federally protected grizzly bears and Canada lynx.
The Northern Rockies’ states are not alone in their hostility toward wolves. This past September, Earthjustice represented six Ojibwe tribes challenging Wisconsin’s wolf hunt. The Ojibwe people have numerous bonds with the gray wolf, or ma’iingan, including through their creation story. The Ojibwe people understand that ma’iingan needs time to reestablish its place upon the landscape and believe that what happens to ma’iingan happens to the Ojibwe. The agencies that allow these brutal wolf hunts demonstrate a lack of respect for these Indigenous peoples who have unique spiritual relationships with the gray wolf. Because of our recent lawsuit that restored protections for the species in 44 states, Wisconsin’s wolves are safe once again.
The erosion of this keystone species is detrimental to ecosystem health. They sit at the top of the food chain and make sure that populations of their prey (and their prey’s prey) remain at healthy levels. When wolves were driven to near extinction, negative side effects cascaded down the food chain, upsetting delicate ecological balances. During a biodiversity crisis, wolves are a necessary keystone species whose presence helps the entire ecosystem.
Interior Secretary Haaland recently wrote about the importance of wolf recovery efforts, so we need your help to urge her to put these words into action and relist gray wolves in the Northern Rockies with federal protections now!