Earthjustice Calls for Emergency Relisting of Northern Rockies Gray Wolves

Response follows Secretary Haaland op-ed in USA Today


Perry Wheeler, Earthjustice, (202) 792-6211

Earthjustice has called for the emergency relisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies in response to the worst persecution of the species the region has seen in a century. The response comes as Interior Secretary Debra Haaland penned an op-ed in USA Today on the value of wolves, while failing to commit concrete actions to protect the species. In the op-ed, Secretary Haaland notes that the agency is “closely monitoring data on wolf populations and will make those determinations if merited using the best available science.”

As Yellowstone celebrates its 150th anniversary, it has seen more than 20 of its wolves killed after they wandered outside of the national park boundary. In Montana, more than 200 wolves have been killed statewide since the hunting and trapping seasons opened in the Fall.

In Idaho, thirteen conservation groups filed suit in December, arguing that continued wolf trapping also captures, injures, and kills non-target grizzly bears and Canada lynx, which are federally protected species. In July 2021, Idaho expanded the wolf trapping danger to grizzly bears by establishing a permanent wolf-trapping season on private property across the state, eliminating limits on the number of wolves one person can kill, and providing financial incentives for wolf killing by increasing wolf bounties and introducing state-sponsored, private-contractor killing of wolves.

Nationally, Earthjustice has challenged the Trump administration delisting of the gray wolf, which left management of the population to individual states. Federal protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north-central Utah) have been removed in the past decade through a combination of administrative and legislative actions.

“Secretary Haaland must take immediate action to restore protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies,” said Jenny Harbine, managing attorney of Earthjustice’s Northern Rockies office. “This region has embraced anti-wolf laws and extreme killing practices not seen in a century. The time for action is now, not when it is too late for the species. The federal government’s decisions to leave wolf management to the Northern Rockies states was premised on those states utilizing sound science. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife committed to consider relisting if the wolf population became threatened either by low numbers or changes to state laws and management objectives that significantly increase the threat to the wolf population. The policies that Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana have put in place are meant to drastically reduce the species and they must be stopped. We can no longer manage wolf populations under outdated and insufficient recovery standards. It is time to replace obsolete thinking about the bare minimum number of wolves for species survival with a positive vision of wolves’ natural role in our ecosystem.”

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