Defenders of Wildlife: Wolves in the Northern Rockies Lose Important Protections

January 24, 2008
4:00 PM

CONTACT: Defenders of Wildlife
Suzanne Stone, (208)424-9385 (office), (208)861-4655 (cell)
Cat Lazaroff, (202)772-3270

Wolves in the Northern Rockies Lose Important Protections
New rule could allow more than half the region’s wolves to be killed

BOISE, IDAHO - January 24 - The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released an updated rule Thursday governing the management of gray wolves in the northern Rockies. The rule dramatically broadens the circumstances under which these wolves may be killed, significantly reducing protections for this endangered species. The rule is separate from a current proposal to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act, and instead governs how wolves will be managed while they remain on the federal list of threatened and endangered species.

The following is a statement from Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies wolf conservation specialist for Defenders of Wildlife regarding Thursday’s announcement.

“This is a giant step backward. Under the rule finalized today, more than 750 wolves – over half of the region’s wolf population – could be killed, even though this wolf population is still protected by the Endangered Species Act. 

“Stripping away protection for our wolves is entirely unjustified. Elk and deer populations in all three northern Rockies states are at or near record highs, and nonlethal, proactive methods are helping to reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock. There is absolutely no reason to begin a wholesale slaughter of the region’s wolves. Yet that is exactly what the federal government is willing to allow the states to do: wipe out hundreds of the wolves our nation has worked so hard to recover.

“This is a scheme based on backdoor politics, not science, and it goes too far. Wolves in the northern Rockies have only recently neared a point where the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service could consider removing federal protections from them. In finalizing this rule, the Service is ignoring its responsibility to ensure the long-term survival of the region’s wolf population.

“We need to work together to reach recovery. We can only do that by creating balanced wolf management plans that ensure a stable population of wolves in the future. Unfortunately, the threat to wolves posed by this new rule leaves us no choice but to involve the courts and file a legal challenge to put a stop to this plan.”

Learn more about what Defenders is doing for Rocky mountain wolves

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit