For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

John Mellgren, 541-359-0990,

Kelly Nokes, 575-613-8051,

Trump Admin Announces Intent to Strip Wolves of Endangered Species Protections in Lower 48

WASHINGTON - Today, acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the Trump administration’s intent to remove endangered species protections for wolves in the lower 48 states. The administration will release the proposal to the public in the next few days. While we’re loath to comment on policy decisions without the full details, the broad context of this decision is clear.

“Given that gray wolves in the lower 48 states occupy such a small percentage of their historical habitat, it is almost laughable for the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine that they are successfully recovered,” said John Mellgren, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “On its face, this appears to be politically motivated. We look forward to reviewing the draft delisting rule, and look forward to taking the Fish and Wildlife Service to court should its proposal not be based on what the science tells us.”

WELC is active on wolf conservation issues in the American West, mounting cases promoting science-based management plans and against the rogue wildlife-killing program Wildlife Services in the Pacific Northwest. WELC is also heavily involved in Mexican gray wolf recovery efforts in the Southwest. It is yet unknown whether the delisting will affect Mexican gray wolves, which are listed separately but represent a critically imperiled sub-species of gray wolf.


Never Miss a Beat.

Get our best delivered to your inbox.

“Wolves are a keystone species whose presence on landscapes regulates animal populations and improves ecosystem health – something the Service has acknowledged for at least 44 years,” said Kelly Nokes, Shared Earth Wildlife Attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center. “Allowing people to kill wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana has already stunted recovery in those states. Applying this same death-sentence to wolves throughout the contiguous U.S., would nationalize these negative effects, with potentially catastrophic ripple effects on ecosystems wherever wolves are found today.”

The best available science says gray wolves are not recovered. WELC will challenge in court any premature removal of endangered species protections for gray wolves by the Trump administration that does not meet the Endangered Species Act’s clear and strong scientific requirements.


This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

The Western Environmental Law Center is a nonprofit public interest law firm that works to protect and restore western wildlands and advocates for a healthy environment on behalf of communities throughout the West.

Share This Article