For Immediate Release
Josh Mogerman at 312-651-7909
Conservation Groups Bring Wolf Fight Back Into Court
NRDC and Eleven Groups fight decision to remove Northern Rocky Mountain wolves from Endangered Species List
when the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of
concerned conservation groups announced a legal challenge to the recent
US Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove wolves from the federal
Endangered Species list. NRDC has long-advocated for a national wolf
plan with recovery goals based on the most current science, which would
point to the need for a larger population of animals with the
opportunity for natural genetic interchange; benchmarks likely
unattainable under the states' wolf management plans.
time the Service removed legal protections, there was an all out war on
wolves in the weeks that followed," said Louisa Willcox, Director of
the NRDC's office in Livingston, Mont. "We are so incredibly close to
fulfilling the conditions necessary to declare the wolves' comeback as
complete, but this move threatens to undo what should be an incredible
conservation success story."
When the Bush
Administration removed protections for wolves in the Northern Rockies
last year, it resulted in the death of over 100 wolves. The State of
Idaho recently proposed killing 120 in one area, the Clearwater, and
has its sites on killing an additional 26 packs in the state.
to inadequacy of the State of Wyoming's management plan, wolves will
retain legal protections within that state while becoming subject to
hunts in Idaho and Montana. This move is in clear opposition to
previously long-standing Department of Interior policy, which found
that wolves in the Northern Rockies constitute a single population and
could not be broken up on a state-by-state basis. Documents stating
this had been available on the Department's Web site, including this
2004 letter to the State of Wyoming and a 2003 Fish and Wildlife
Service memo on wolves, stating, "We cannot use a boundary between
states to subdivide a single biological population in an effort to
artificially create a discrete population."
borders don't mean much to wolves --- they don't know Wyoming from West
Virginia," said Dr. Sylvia Fallon, NRDC Staff Scientist whose genetic
expertise was central in the federal court challenge environmentalists
won against the previous effort to remove wolf protections. "We agree
that Wyoming's plan is inadequate, but you cannot have protections
start and stop at state lines, particularly when genetic interchange
between the packs is essential for the wolf's long-term survival. It
undermines the needs of both wolves and the people who live in the
The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf
of NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological
Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole
Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild
Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds
Project, and Wildlands Project.
"Secretary Salazar and
the Department of Interior have pushed through a policy that sidesteps
the law as well as the needs of both wolves and the people who live in
the region," said Andrew Wetzler, Director of NRDC's Endangered Species
Project. "A real solution is going to require a national plan that sets
recovery goals based on the latest science and ensures natural genetic
interchange for the packs in the region. Anything else is likely to
fall short of what is required by the law and just gets in the way of a
long-term solution for all the parties involved. Let's get this thing
Tens of thousands of gray wolves once roamed
North America before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent
of their habitat in lower 48 states in the 1930s. The gray wolf was
listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Disease
has taken a further toll on the packs in and around Yellowstone
National Park shrinking the park population by 27% and slowing the
broader region's population growth in 2008, offering further proof of
the wolves' vulnerable status in the region.
reintroduction of wolves by the federal government has measurably
improved the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited
streamside habitats and riparian forests, as well as pronghorn antelope
bird, rodent, and elk populations. Many thousands of visitors flock to
Yellowstone National Park each year to see and hear wolves in the wild,
contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year,
according to some studies.
The rule can be viewed online at http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2009-05991_PI.pdf
Check the Switchboard blog later today for commentary from NRDC's science and legal teams at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/
Broadcast quality wolf video is available to members of the media at http://nrdc.mediaseed.tv/
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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.