Two months ago, the Obama administration stunned the environmental community by removing northern gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. In doing so, the administration went along with one of the more onerous acts of the Bush administration. It also was the first major departure by the administration from the pro-environment path it had been on since Obama took office.
Conservation groups took a while to catch their collective breath and pull together the right response. Today, with a strong legal case in hand, Earthjustice led the groups into court—for the second time in a year—with a lawsuit challenging the delisting decision.
The suit seeks to re-instate protections for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana, which now plan to allow hundreds of wolves to be shot. When Bush first took away protections in 2008, Idaho crafted a plan that would allow 428 wolves to be killed in that state alone. That plan was quashed by our first lawsuit, but the Obama de-listing now authorizes the two states combined to reduce their wolf populations from the current 1,500 wolves to only 200-300. To its credit, the administration has keep protections of wolves intact in Wyoming, a state that had a too-hostile wolf management plan of its own.
Wolves are the comeback kids of the North American animal world, but in the last year they’ve declined 27 percent in Yellowstone National Park. Throughout the Northern Rockies, they have not reached population levels that can sustain hunting pressure…or for that matter the political pressure that has resulted in their de-listing.