Posted on 13 November 2012.
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.
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.
Posted in Features, Gray Wolf, Northern Rockies Gray Wolf, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, Species at Risk, Wildlife, wolves
Posted on 09 March 2011.
With the budget battle in Washington still raging, Defenders has been working hard to protect investment in sound conservation programs, as well as suggesting areas where the federal budget should be cut.
Wolves and other wildlife under threat by Congress
This week, Defenders along with 34 other conservation organizations delivered the Green Budget 2012 to Congressional offices. The document is a blueprint for how we can cut spending and sift out the areas where investment continues to be the wise decision.
For example, each year oil and coal companies receive $60 billion through tax subsidies, despite the fact that they continue to make record profits. Cut!
On the other hand, programs that keep our wildlife and wild places healthy underpin an outdoor recreation industry that contributes $730 billion to our economy each year. Investing in those areas is, as Defenders President Rodger Schlickeisen says, “not only a personal and moral responsibility but an economic no-brainer too”.
…they are using the budget deficit as an excuse to advance an extreme ideological agenda.
But while the budget battle takes center stage, an effort mounted by U.S. House leadership could potentially do untold damage to our environment. And even more troublingly, they are using the budget deficit as an excuse to advance an extreme ideological agenda.
The spending bill passed by the House and currently being deliberated by the Senate (H.R.1) also contained numerous anti-environment amendments, totally disconnected from budget issues. These bad policy riders contain body-blow attacks on core environmental laws we need to keep our air and water clean.
One bad policy rider blocks all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for greenhouse gas pollution control. Another prevents EPA from protecting and restoring waterways in over 20 million acres of wetlands and habitat.
And as it stands, the bill includes attacks on the Endangered Species Act that would effectively remove all protections for most wolves in the Northern Rockies and deprive California’s Bay-Delta of a sustainable life-giving water supply.
Everyone understands that money is tight and tough choices must be made if we are going to reduce the budget deficit. And we need Congress to make sure that the cuts they make are smart cuts. But exploiting this budget process to advance a long-held anti environment agenda? That’s just wrong.
Learn more about why H.R.1 threatens the future of American wildlife.
Take action now: Urge your senators to oppose efforts to eliminate vital protections for healthy wildlife, air and water.
Posted in Wildlife
Posted on 06 December 2010.
Secretary Salazar's plan will not only threaten the future of wolves in the Northern Rockies—but the very foundation of the Endangered Species Act.
Think the Secretary of the Interior wouldn’t sell out our wolves and the Endangered Species Act?
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been negotiating directly with the governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and we now have strong reason to believe that he is going to promote legislative language to eliminate life-saving protections for wolves in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and portions of Washington, Oregon, and Utah.
Don’t let Secretary Salazar sell out our wolves and the Endangered Species Act. Write your senators and urge them to oppose this awful plan.
Under Salazar’s proposal, wolves would be delisted and lose federal protection. They would also no longer be subject to the ESA at any time or under any circumstances, except at the sole discretion of the Secretary of the Interior.
Hundreds of wolves—maybe more than a thousand—could die! Help save the lives of wolves and protect the Endangered Species Act. Please take action now.
Once the Endangered Species Act is weakened in such a way, it would invite further outrages… dealing a serious blow to the very foundation of the Act, the bedrock conservation law in this country.
We don’t have much time to stop Secretary Salazar’s plan. Please urge your senators to reject Interior Secretary Salazar’s backroom deal to remove protections for wolves and harm the ESA.
Posted in Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, Take Action, wolves
Posted on 29 October 2010.
We’re back to our weekly updates after a great series last week for Wolf Awareness Week. Here are the top wolf-related items for this week:
Gray wolf. Photo by Ron Sanford/National Geographic Stock.
Wolf supporters inundate Congress
Defenders put an alert out to our members early this week asking them to send a message to Congress, telling them not to undermine wolf recovery by legislating away protections for wolves. In less than a week, our supporters generated more than 50,000 responses to show our elected representatives that there is still strong support for continued wolf recovery and sustainable management. Thank you to all our citizen wildlife defenders for taking action!
Haven’t had a chance to sign the petition yet? Visit the Defenders Wildlife Action Center to add your voice to the tens of thousands of our supporters who are speaking up to save America’s wolves!
Don’t blame wolves for tougher hunting
Public News Service in Idaho and Montana ran a story last week featuring retired wolf recovery coordinator Carter Niemeyer, who reminded hunters that wolves are an important part of the outdoor experience. Niemeyer says wolves have been unfairly blamed by hunters for making elk harder to find.
Editorial skewers Gov. Otter’s decision to abandon wolf management
Idaho Mountain Express took Governor “Butch” Otter to task for playing politics with wolves in Idaho:
“Otter’s ink-on-paper tantrum was conveniently timed with less than two weeks to go before an election in a state where voters begin to froth at the mouth when the words “federal” and “wolf” are uttered. The response is always strange given that Idahoans have no problem being big beneficiaries of federal largesse and that the vast majority of us will never see a wolf.”
Genetics study supports robust wolf population
A story this week in the Billings Gazette mischaracterized an important study about the genetic health of wolves in the Northern Rockies. The researchers found that there is good genetic exchange between subpopulations, but that healthy exchange required much greater wolf numbers than the minimum number required in federal recovery objectives. As Defenders’ Rocky Mountain Director Mike Leahy points out, the study affirms that those minimum recovery objectives are too low to ensure a healthy, sustainable wolf population over the long run. Defenders continues to call for wolf management based on the best available science.
Etsy For Animals highlights wolf art during Wolf Awareness Week.
Amazing wolf artists write about Wolf Awareness Week
Thanks again to our friends at Etsy for Animals (EFA), a collective of independent artists who help raise money for other nonprofit groups. Team EFA chose Defenders as their charity-of-the-month for September and followed up by promoting Wolf Awareness Week last week. They featured some excellent blog posts and really cool wolf art. It’s not too late to order a painting, jewelry, clothing and other wolf gear from these talented artists. See their full collection of wolf objects here.
Attacks from both sides
In September, writer Bill Schneider gave us a back-handed compliment by recognizing that Defenders has worked hard to build in-roads toward sustainable wolf management. And now he’s calling out anti-wolf hunting groups for making compromise more difficult. As Schneider points out, both sides need to give a little if we’re ever going to resolve this issue.
Posted in Features, In the News, Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, wolves
Posted on 26 October 2010.
The threat of anti-wolf, anti-endangered species legislation passing Congress in next month's so-called lame duck session is imminent and very real.
For the first time ever, members of Congress are actually proposing to deny Endangered Species Act protections to one particular named species—the gray wolf. These proposals, fueled by the anti-wolf crowd, threaten not only the future of this majestic American animal but also the very foundation of the Endangered Species Act!
Speak out for sound, science-based management of Greater Yellowstone wolves and other imperiled wildlife. Take action now.
Montana Congressman Denny Rehberg, who has a long record of opposing needed conservation programs, is planning legislation to return what would amount to unsupervised management of wolves to his state and Idaho, where groups like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife are inciting anti-wolf hatred and pressuring local politicians to allow the killing of as many wolves as possible.
And Texas Congressman Chet Edwards has introduced a bill that would prohibit Endangered Species Act protections for all wolves in the lower 48 United States! That would include endangered wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. If passed, the bill would threaten the very future of wild wolves in America.
A threat this big requires a big response, so we’ve set a goal of sending 50,000 messages to Congress to tell them that science, not politics, should guide management of wolves—and all imperiled species—in this country. Please take a moment to sign our petition today.
With your help, Defenders of Wildlife has fought for decades to protect and restore endangered species. We’ve helped return wolves to their native habitats, recognizing the important role these amazing animals play in maintaining balanced, healthy ecosystems. We’ve helped demonstrate the economic value of returning wolves to Yellowstone. And we’ve worked with ranchers throughout the West to allow wolves to successfully co-exist with livestock.
Don’t let one of the greatest conservation victories of the last century be frittered away. And don’t let the nation’s commitment to saving endangered species be destroyed.
Sign the petition now and help ensure a lasting future for America’s wolves.
Posted in Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, Take Action, wolves