Wolf delisting lawsuit filed
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
April 28, 2008
Here's a press release from the Earthjustice website today:
Twelve conservation groups are fighting for the survival of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. The groups today filed a federal court lawsuit challenging the federal government's decision to remove the northern Rockies gray wolf population from the list of endangered species. Wolves should not have been delisted, the groups argue, because they remain threatened by biased, inadequate state management plans, as well as by the lack of connections between largely isolated state wolf populations.
The Fish and Wildlife Service's premature decision to strip the protections of the Endangered Species Act from the northern Rocky Mountains' wolves promises to undo the hard-earned progress toward wolf recovery of recent years. State laws that guide wolf management in the wake of delisting betray the states' continued hostility toward the presence of wolves in the region. While ensuring that wolves can and will be killed in defense of property or recreation, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana have refused to make enforceable commitments to maintaining viable wolf populations within their borders. The states have failed to keep track of recent wolf killings and also neglected to secure funding for essential monitoring and conservation efforts.
Actions by the states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana, and by individuals, since wolves were delisted demonstrate the need to resume federal safeguards for wolves until state plans are in place that ensure a sustainable wolf population in the region. For example, on the very day delisting took effect - March 28, 2008 - Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed into law a new Idaho law allowing Idaho citizens to kill wolves without a permit whenever wolves are annoying, disturbing, or "worrying" livestock or domestic animals. Since delisting, Wyoming has implemented its "kill on sight" predator law in nearly 90 percent of the state. Not surprisingly, these hostile state laws have resulted in a wave of new wolf killings.
At present, wolves in central Idaho, northwestern Montana, and the Greater Yellowstone area remain largely disconnected from each other and wolves in Canada. The wolves of the Greater Yellowstone area, in particular, have remained genetically isolated since 31 wolves were introduced into Yellowstone National Park more than a decade ago. Moreover, the region's population of 1,500 wolves still falls short of the numbers that independent scientists have determined to be necessary to secure the health of the species in the northern Rockies.
With continued recovery efforts, real wolf recovery in the region is within reach. Delisting further endangers wolves because of increased wolf killing, reduced wolf numbers, and less genetic exchange between wolf populations.
Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and Wildlands Project.