Lawsuit Launched to Recover Wolves Across Country

For Immediate Release

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Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495

Lawsuit Launched to Recover Wolves Across Country

National Plan Would Focus on Saving Existing Wolf Populations and Returning Wolves to West Coast, New England, Southern Rockies and Great Plains

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity
today filed a formal notice
of intent to sue the Interior Department for failing to develop a recovery plan
for wolves in the lower 48 states. Such a plan is required by the Endangered Species
Act, and according to today’s notice should have been developed 30 years
ago or more. In July the Center submitted a scientific
petition
to Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service asking that a
national recovery plan be developed, but never received a response.

A
national plan would provide a roadmap for recovering existing wolf populations
and returning wolves to some of their historic range around the country; suitable
wolf habitat exists in the Pacific Northwest, California,
Great Basin, southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and New
England.

“Wolves
are an integral part of this county’s natural history and need a national
recovery plan now,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at
the Center. “Although wolves have made important strides toward recovery
in parts of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes,
these areas represent less than 5 percent of their historic range. We call on
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stop playing politics and use his legal
authority to do right by the wolf.”

With
passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, four subspecies of wolves were
originally protected under the Endangered Species Act: the Mexican gray wolf,
northern Rocky Mountain
wolf, eastern timber wolf and Texas
gray wolf. Because of questions about the validity of these subspecies,
protection of the wolf was consolidated to include all wolves in the lower 48
states in 1978. But despite this consolidation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service never developed a national recovery plan for the wolf. Instead, it
finalized plans for three of four of the previously protected subspecies. These
plans cover a small fraction of the wolf’s former range, are decades old and
set population goals well below what scientists now know are necessary for
population health and survival.

“It
is time for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to chart a new course for wolf
recovery,” said Greenwald. “This plan is badly needed to establish
new goals and management for existing wolf populations and as a blueprint for
establishing wolves in additional areas.”

In
recent years, states with wolf populations have demanded that federal
protections be lifted based on the outdated recovery plans. But the Fish and
Wildlife Service’s efforts to appease these demands and remove
protections for northern Rockies and Great Lakes
wolves have been repeatedly rebuffed by the courts in lawsuits brought by
conservation groups, including the Center. A national recovery plan could
specify a legally defensible path for truly recovering wolves and provide
certainty for states that have wolf populations.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

“The
Department of the Interior’s failure to develop a national recovery
strategy for the wolf, as it has for other species like the bald eagle, has led
to tremendous confusion and hampered true wolf recovery,” said Greenwald.
“Wolves have been an integral part of North American landscapes for
millions of years and are cherished, iconic animals that deserve a certain
future in this country.”

Wolves
are a keystone species that benefit prey populations by culling sick animals
and preventing overpopulation. Studies of wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park show that they also
benefit other species, including pronghorn and foxes by controlling coyote
populations, and songbirds and beavers by dispersing browsing elk and allowing
recovery of streamside vegetation.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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