The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Suzanne Asha Stone, (208)424-9385 (office), (208)861-4655 (cell)

Erin McCallum, (202)772-3217; (610)207-5209

Bush Administration Rushes to Strip Protections from Northern Rockies Wolves

Despite previous court decisions, administration again ignores Endangered Species Act requirements


Today, in a last-ditch effort by the
Bush administration to undermine environmental protections, the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the Northern
Rockies gray wolf will be taken off the Endangered Species
List. This decision is yet another
attempt to prematurely strip wolves of legal protection before the clock runs
out next Tuesday on the most anti-environment administration in American

The Bush administration's prior effort to delist the
Northern Rockies wolf was rebuffed in federal court and
then voluntarily withdrawn by the FWS shortly afterwards. This latest attempt to remove federal
protection for wolves is not based on new science and does not fix the legal
deficiencies cited by the federal court when it blocked the previous delisting
attempt. Moreover, in rushing to
again delist wolves, the Bush administration ignored calls by Defenders of
Wildlife and others to involve stakeholders throughout the region in developing
a strategy that addresses inadequate state wolf management plans, particularly
in Wyoming and
Idaho, and meets the requirements
of the Endangered Species Act.

Below is a statement
by Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, regarding today's

"This blatantly political maneuver is hardly surprising. The
Bush administration has been trying to strip Endangered Species Act protections
from the Northern Rockies wolf since the day it took office - no matter the dire
consequences of delisting wolves prematurely and without adequate state
protections in place.

"The Bush administration is forcing the future of wolves in
the region to play out in the courts by finalizing a delisting rule in its last
hours in office. We intend to challenge this poorly constructed decision in
court as soon as the law allows. It
is outrageous that the Bush administration has chosen to create this unnecessary
legal problem for the new Obama administration to deal with as it takes office.

"It is nonsensical to rush this rule through when states have
plans in place to kill hundreds of wolves as soon as they're delisted from
federal protection. If the wolf
population drops to the minimum of 300 to 450 wolves in the entire region, we
already know, based on the most current science, that it cannot remain
genetically viable for the long-term.

"We need to slow the process down and make sure it is done
right - using science as the benchmark for recovery goals. Today's delisting
rule fails adequately to address biologists' concerns about the lack of genetic
exchange among wolf populations in the Northern Rockies.

"If allowed to stand, this rule would mean that the
Northern Rockies wolf population could be slashed by as
much as two-thirds, placing approximately 1,000 of the region's roughly 1,450
wolves in peril. This is a loss
from which they most likely would be unable to recover."

"We trust that the Obama administration will see this for
what it is, one last anti-environment blast from the most anti-environment
administration in American history.
We look forward to working with the new administration to fix this and to
ensure wolf recovery that truly merits taking wolves off the endangered species
list. That will be an
accomplishment to celebrate."

Below is a statement from
Suzanne Asha Stone, Defenders of Wildlife representative for the

through a flawed plan that has already been rejected by the courts doesn't make
any sense. The bottom line is wolves are a wildlife resource and an important
part of our natural resources heritage.
Wolves should be managed to maintain sustainable healthy populations, the
way we manage mountain lions, bears and other wildlife. The states should not be allowed to kill
two thirds of our regional wolf population just because wolves lose federal

Our regional residents need a science based delisting plan
that addresses the needs of both wolves and people. Instead of forcing this
issue back into the courts, the Service should help bring all interested parties
to the table, allowing stakeholders to iron out solutions to the management
conflicts. We can move forward to
delisting, and we should, but only under rationale conditions.

Our only reasonable course of action is again to challenge
the delisting in court until the Service takes a science based approach towards
long term recovery goals for wolves in the Northern

Defenders of Wildlife is the premier U.S.-based national conservation organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of imperiled species and their habitats in North America.

(202) 682-9400