Wolf, © James Brandenburg / National Geographic Stock

The Wait Is Over

Jason Rylander, Senior Staff Attorney

Wyoming’s wolves will be getting their day in court. Today, Defenders of Wildlife — along with our colleagues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity, all represented by Earthjustice — officially filed suit in federal district court in the District of Columbia challenging the Obama Administration’s decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming. Since the final delisting rule took effect on September 30, it has been open season on wolves in most of the state.

grey wolf in Yellowstone National Park

A gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park

Two months ago, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA), we filed a notice of intent to sue the administration if it did not reconsider its premature delisting of Wyoming’s wolves. At that time, I wrote that we would file a complaint in the U.S. District Court at the very first opportunity. That we would “ask the court to declare this rule illegal, and put wolves back on the endangered species list until Wyoming adopts a responsible management plan that ensures the continued survival and recovery of wolves in the region.”

Now the mandatory waiting period is over, and that is just what we have done. We are cautiously optimistic. Courts have thus far found every previous attempt to delist wolves in the northern Rockies to be illegal under the ESA. Unfortunately, wolves in Montana and Idaho were delisted by an unprecedented act of Congress in 2011. Since then, Montana and Idaho have allowed ever more aggressive wolf management, including liberalized hunting seasons, wolf quotas, and even trapping. Now Wyoming could be next. As of October 1, 2012, Wyoming was thought to have an estimated 328 wolves. Under the Wyoming delisting rule, however, the state has committed to maintaining just 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation. In up to 85 percent of the state, wolves lack any protections and can be killed by any means at any time. In sum, Wyoming’s wolf management plan is a throwback to the days when wolves were recklessly targeted for elimination, and not a scientifically-based strategy for keeping wolves off the endangered species list.

As we wrote in the complaint we filed today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist Wyoming’s wolves “despite excessive human-caused mortality promoted under state management, contradicts the purposes and mandates of the ESA” and “ignores fundamental principles of conservation biology. Thus, the delisting rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to the law, and must be set aside.” We hope the court agrees. As the case moves forward, we’ll be sure to keep you updated on new developments.

As with many lawsuits, progress may be slow, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Wyoming’s wolves cannot speak up for themselves — it’s up to us, with your support, to bring their voice into the courtroom, and to tell people that what is happening in Wyoming is anything but responsible wildlife management.

17 Responses to “The Wait Is Over”

  1. Janet Moore

    Stop the killing here in Wyoming of these awesome animals.. This has got too stop!!!!!

  2. Lisa Billings

    Please please fight for our wolves. Their numbers have unfairly been culled for too long.

  3. mandyinseattle

    Is there a phone number we can call to add some extra pressure, whether it’s at the federal or state level, to let these decisionmakers know we’re watching, outside of the courtroom setting?

    Perhaps an email also?

    Thank you for all you do. You all warm my heart. ~mandy

  4. Shirley

    You guys are champions y fight fornthose who can’t fight for themselves. You should be very proud of what yu do…good luck keep up the good fight

  5. Dixie Oyler

    Thank you for helping this magnificent animal that so many of of us love…… How can we help you?

  6. Shelley Ruth Wyndham

    Thank you to each and every one who is fighting to get our Wolves protected again. We honour you, we stand with you, we will not give up nor walk away until our Wolves are protected from this current insanity. God bless you all and us all, in this fight for justice and due protection, forever, for our sacred Wolves.stop all Wolf hunts, all trappings and all associated barbaric actions which have been involved in this global embarrassment, and utterly dispicable, unjust and inhumane ‘Wolf hunt.’No Wolf should ever be hunted. This must end now. Thank you to all concerned.

  7. Lisa Fabish

    This is awesome POSITIVE news!!…. Keep the fight strong and I am Praying Minnesota follows!!…. Save The Wolf!!…… God Bless!!!

  8. Leslene Dunn

    Dear Lord, let the outcome be positive, and let those barbaric monsters who inflict these horrendous atrocities upon Your precious creatures be punished as only You can punish.

  9. Laura Blanchette

    No one life is so important that he can usurp the rights of another. Every life deserves the chance to live. Please, don’t take this right away from the wolves.

  10. Janis Hruby

    Thank you for all your hard work to save the wolf. They indeed need protection from the disturbed people who are so anxious to kill wildlife. Hopefully, the judge in this case will be pro-animal and not be pressured by the hunting lobby or ranchers. The wolf needs to be placed back on the Endanged Spieces List and managed responsibly.

  11. Millie Sheen

    Thanks for helping the wolves everyone. as you say wolves cant speak for themselves. Great work!

  12. alison Savin

    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources submitted to the US Fish and Wildlife Service a wolf management plan that required a five year waiting period after delisting before initiating a hunting and trapping season. As soon as the Minnesota grey wolf was delisted, the legislature, in a special session with no public input, passed a hunting a trapping season which began on November 3rd and wil run till January.

    Four hundred wolves will be taken this season. The DNR estmates that 250 will be poached and about 100 will be hit by cars. That is 1/3 of the wolf population that tokk 40 years to build.

    Please help. Call Mn DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr @ 651-296-6157 or
    888-646-6367

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