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

Wolves Once Again in the Crosshairs

Delisting rule removes protections for wolves in much of Northern Rockies


Today, wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern portions of Oregon and
Washington and northern Utah lose federal protections and become subject to the
terms of a federal delisting rule that allows more than two thirds of the
current population to be killed. This Bush administration rule was given the
green light by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar only weeks after he took
office, in the face of overwhelming public opposition to the Bush rule and
without any consultation with conservationists, congressional leaders, or
scientists outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now, an already tenuous
wolf population will be subject to a scientifically flawed and overly aggressive
delisting plan that does not provide for a sustainable and long-term future for
wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president for Defenders
of Wildlife:

"Today's delisting is a potentially disastrous turn for a venture that
began in 1995 in such a hopeful and rewarding manner: the restoration of wolves
to their natural landscape in the West. We are outraged and dismayed that
Secretary Salazar put his stamp of approval on this premature and inadequate
Bush administration plan for wolf.

"We all expected more from the Obama administration, which repeatedly
promised it would consult with conservationists, scientists, and other
stakeholders on key issues before making decisions. Secretary Salazar
rejected our offer to work with him to find the right way to delist wolves in
the region and, instead, made his surprise announcement that he was removing
federal protections for vulnerable wolves with no transparency at all. Defenders
of Wildlife immediately filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act so
we could learn who the Secretary talked to about the issue and what scientific
review he undertook - and we are still waiting for an answer. Meanwhile we
are moving to sue Secretary Salazar as soon as possible to overturn this
misguided and unwarranted decision.

"The delisting plan allows these two states to reduce wolf populations to
levels that would threaten genetic diversity between populations and undermine
the goal of ensuring a healthy, sustainable wolf population in the region.
Secretary Salazar's terrible decision leaves us no choice. We will stand up for
wolves and endangered species conservation by moving to challenge this delisting
in court as soon as the law allows."

The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies
representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

"All the reasons why this plan was a bad idea when the Bush administration
proposed it still stand today. It allows all but 300 - of an estimated total of
1,343 - of the wolves in Idaho and Montana to be killed. These numbers do not
even account for the new pups being born as we speak, who are easy targets for
those who would wish them harm.

"The delisting plan ignores current science on what wolves need to maintain a
healthy population over the long term. It also ignores the hundreds of thousands
of citizens who have asked for a better plan, and it flies in the face of the
fact that wolf populations cannot be distinguished on the basis of political
boundaries for the purpose of applying the ESA.

"With respect to Idaho and Montana, little about this rule has changed since
it was rejected and deemed unlawful in a federal court in July of 2008.

"Idaho, which hosts the majority of the region's wolf population, has already
publically announced its desire to aggressively reduce its state wolf population
once federal protections are lifted. Today, there are at least 25 packs on the
short-list that may be targeted for removal. It is actions such as these that we
fear, and must prevent.

"Delisting the wolf at this point in time completely undermines the serious
work, consideration and cooperation among all stakeholders that is necessary
before being able to objectively declare the gray wolf recovered."

Read more about Defenders' work on Northern Rockies wolves.

Read about our ongoing legal efforts here.

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