For Immediate Release
Mollie Matteson, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 434-2388 (office)
Wolves in Northeast Denied Protection Again
Conservationists Call For National Wolf Recovery Plan
RICHMOND, Vt. - In response to a petition from a group of concerned citizens, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a finding today that because there is not currently a breeding population of wolves in the northeastern United States, the population does not qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, a recovery plan will not be developed to bring the species back.
"There is extensive habitat for wolves in the Northeast," said Mollie Matteson of the Center for Biological Diversity. "The only obstacle to the return of the wolf in the Northeast is leadership and a clear plan for their recovery."
Since the 1960s, eight apparent wolves have been killed in the Northeast, including one as recently as 2007. Any wolves occurring in the Northeast are technically protected under the Endangered Species Act, under which wolves in the continental U.S. are protected as endangered. In recent years, however, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to divide this listing and remove protections for remaining existing populations in the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies, which has left unclear the status of wolves and wolf recovery in the Northeast, and other areas where there are not existing populations. To date, these efforts have been rebuffed by lawsuits brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups.
"With wolves occupying less than ten percent of their historic range in the U.S. it is too early to remove their protection anywhere," said Matteson. "Wolves need a national recovery plan that plans for their recovery in the Northeast and elsewhere."
National recovery plans for the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and others have taken a regional approach in which removal of protection is tied to specific recovery goals in each region. Such an approach could easily work for the Northeastern wolves.
"Wolves are the engine of evolution, helping control deer that overbrowse sensitive vegetation, ensuring that the most robust moose pass on their genes, and providing leftovers for scavengers such as eagles, ravens, and bears," said Matteson. "Wolves can and should be recovered in the Northeast."
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