For Immediate Release
Suzanne Stone, (208) 424-9385, (208) 861-4655
Erin McCallum, (202) 772-3217; (610) 207-5209
Lawsuit Last Hope for Long-Term Wolf Recovery in Northern Rockies
Suit filed as a last resort
WASHINGTON - Today, Defenders of Wildlife and 12 other conservation groups
filed a lawsuit asking the courts to reverse the ill-timed and unwarranted
removal of Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the Northern
Rockies. The lawsuit is a last resort, and only comes after exhausting all other
Regrettably, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar failed to fully consider both
scientific and legal inadequacies underlying the Bush administration’s delisting
rule before adopting it on April 2, 2009. The Bush administration
delisting rule adopted by Salazar essentially allows over two-thirds of the
region’s wolves to be killed before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would
even consider stepping back in and restoring protections.
The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies
representative for Defenders of Wildlife:
“After working more than 20 years to restore wolves here, it’s a thrill to
see the wolf population finally on the threshold of recovery with more than 1600
wolves in the region. However, we cannot ignore that this delisting plan
fails to protect their future and would allow states like Idaho, which has
demanded that all wolves be removed ‘by any means necessary,’ to decimate the
population to less than a few hundred wolves. We need a delisting plan that
allows the wolf population to thrive while addressing the needs and concerns of
our regional residents.
“We had hoped to avoid
the need for litigation, but Secretary Salazar’s decision to go forward with the
Bush administration’s delisting plan, which allows states to reduce wolf numbers
from 1650 (not including pups), to a mere 450 region wide, left us no choice.
“We are going to court in order to ensure that wolves are fully recovered and
treated as key components of the Northern Rockies ecosystem – not as token
isolated subpopulations maintained at the most minimum levels in national parks
and wilderness areas.
“We had expected at this point to be celebrating the recovery of the gray
wolf in the Northern Rockies. Instead, after decades of recovery efforts,
tremendous support and investment from the American public, impressive efforts
by federal and state wildlife agencies, and one of the most successful wildlife
restorations in history, the future of the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains is
once again in jeopardy.
“We look forward to one day seeing wolves fully recovered and under state
management, but both the delisting plan and the state plans currently in place
are not adequate to ensure the long-term recovery of wolves.
“Sadly, rather than committing to ensuring the long-term recovery of wolves,
Secretary Salazar, like his predecessor in the Bush administration, has forced
us again to the courts to reverse a delisting rule that puts us right back where
we started – with a wolf population that cannot survive without federal
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Defenders of Wildlife is a national, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.