Fish and Wildlife Service Reinstates Protections for Wolves in Wyoming and Great Lakes: While Congress pushes bills to delist gray wolves in both Wyoming and the Great Lakes, this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would comply with recent rulings from two federal court cases — which overturned delisting rules in both Wyoming and the Great Lakes states – and reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in both areas. Gray wolves are now officially relisted as endangered in Wisconsin, Michigan, parts of North and South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. In Minnesota, wolves will be relisted as threated. And in Wyoming, wolves regain their nonessential experimental population status. While these wolves have protection today, all of this could be undermined if Congress succeeds in passing its proposed legislation that would, once again, take protections away from wolves in all these areas, a very likely possibility. As we’ve been saying all along, congressional delisting of wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes sets a terrible precedent for congressional meddling with the Endangered Species Act — letting politics trump science in the species listing process. You can help us continue to fight for wolves by sending your own message to Congress today asking them to let science, not politics, determine wolves’ future.
On The Air: Our Very Own Eva Sargent Airs on Colorado’s “Animal House” Show Tomorrow: If you are in Southern Colorado, tune in tomorrow, February 28, at 8:00 am to hear Defenders’ Eva Sargent featured on AM1300’s “Animal House.” Eva will talk about the state of Mexican gray wolf recovery – not only does Colorado need wolves, but lobos in particular need a home in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Eva will also discuss how Defenders is engaging elsewhere in the Southwest and Southern Rockies to protect imperiled wildlife. If you are not local, you can listen to the interview later online.
Oregon’s Wolf Population Increases by Thirteen: Oregon’s gray wolf population shows strong signs of recovery according to Oregon’s official wolf population count for 2014 which was released this week. Oregon now has 77 wolves in the state, an increase of 13 animals from the 2013 year end count. The state has also documented nine wolf packs and at least eight breeding pairs. Oregon’s wolf population is determined annually based on verified sightings of wolves, so these numbers represent the minimum wolf population in Oregon. We’re thrilled to see this wolf population continue to grow and expand westward throughout the state. (Recall that Oregon is home to famous OR-7 and his new family “The Rogue Pack” who made headlines this year for moving farther west in the state than any others.) Oregon’s healthy wolf population is no doubt a result of the state’s continued commitment to implementing balanced management policies for the species — unlike state officials in adjacent Idaho who continue to wage a war on wolves.
But, while the population is increasing, this does not automatically mean that wolves in Oregon should be removed from the state Endangered Species Act — a topic currently under review by the state. Because Oregon has maintained at least four breeding pairs for three consecutive years, Oregon has initiated a status review to determine whether wolves should remain listed, and what level of protection they require. Defenders applauds Oregon’s approach to wolf management and we will continue to encourage Oregon’s state officials to conduct a neutral and unbiased status review to assess wolves’ overall population health.
Anti-Wolf Bills Advance in Washington’s Legislature: The Washington state legislature is moving several anti-wolf bills, which if passed will significantly impede recovery of wolves in the state. The first bill would modify the 2011 Washington Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, unnecessarily disrupting wolf restoration efforts. This bill ignores science: if passed, any future changes or amendments made to the state’s wolf management plan could be approved without first undergoing a peer review process or a standard environmental review.
The Committee also passed a second bill which calls for regional delisting of wolves under the state Endangered Species Act. This bill enables local politics to have a greater influence on wolf management decisions in Washington than science. Wolves in Washington are just beginning to gain a foothold in the state, and by no means is the species “recovered” based on the best available science. We still have several opportunities to submit amendments or defeat these bills before they are enacted, and keep them from undermining wolf recovery in Washington. We’ll keep you updated on our progress.
Calling All Photographers! Do You Have Good Pics Of Wolves…Or Other Wildlife?! We’ve opened our sixth annual photo contest and are asking you to submit your wildlife photos to us before Monday, March 16, 2015. Submit your best photos of imperiled wildlife (images of captive animals are not eligible) and wild landscapes, and you could win a week-long guided nature photography trip with renowned nature photographer Jess Lee or other prizes. You will also have a chance to see your photos on Defenders web pages, in Defenders, our quarterly publication and in our calendar, annual report and other publications. Check out the rules, regs and FAQs online … and thank you in advance for your photo contribution!