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February 2008

February 28, 2008

Recent Coverage

This delisting debate has proven more high profile and volatile than anything I have worked on here at Defenders. The phones have been ringing off-the-hook all day from interested media, and concerned citizens. It is evident that a great many people care about the future of the northern Rockies wolf, and want to help.

Articles written in outlets such as the New York Times, Denver Post, USA Today and the Register-Guard over the past couple of days raise interesting points, and explain the difficulties ahead. I am positive this issue will remain prominent in the news for some time, as both sides of the debate feel strongly about what the fate of this charismatic predator should be.

February 26, 2008

Protecting Wolves in Court

(…and now a word from our lawyers)

Some people are questioning the necessity of legal action regarding the decision to delist the northern Rockies wolf. I’m here to let you know why I believe it is not only a necessary action, but in fact crucial to the survival of the species in the region.

The return of the wolf in the northern Rockies is one of the Endangered Species Act's (ESA) greatest success stories, but the Bush Administration’s decision to remove the wolf from the list of federally-protected endangered species is premature and threatens to undo all the progress we have made.

I, on behalf of Defenders and along with other conservation groups and numerous scientists, strongly urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to delist the wolf at this time because the current population is inadequate for biological recovery and the states of Wyoming and Idaho particularly have not demonstrated a serious commitment to wolf conservation. The best scientific evidence available tells us that wolves have not yet reached minimum viable population levels that will assure their place in the northern Rockies ecosystem for generations to come.

That’s why, on March 28, 2008, as soon as the delisting decision was published in the Federal Register, Defenders and our partners notified the Bush Administration by letter of our intent to challenge the delisting decision in federal court. Under the citizen-suit provision of the ESA, citizens must give the government 60-days’ notice prior to actually filing a lawsuit. The letter reiterates our opposition to wolf delisting and explains why under federal law wolf delisting is not merely unwise but contrary to law. We will file suit in federal district court as soon as the 60-day waiting period elapses.

Litigation is a tool of last resort but it is also an important safeguard against improper government action. This is not the first time I have been forced to turn to the courts to protect wolves. The Bush Administration tried to reduce wolf protections once before in 2003. Defenders challenged that decision and a federal district court sided with us, ensuring that wolves would continue to enjoy the full protection of the ESA until their recovery is complete.

The restoration of the wolf in the West is simply not complete. To allow the states to reduce wolf populations from the present 1500 to a potential minimum population of a few hundred is folly and abandons wolf recovery. Wolves are simply not ready to lose federal protections, and I am confident that the courts will agree.

Read more about Defenders' work In the Courts with Northern Rockies Wolves and the 10J Rule.

February 21, 2008

Wolves Lose Protection Today

Today is a sad day for wildlife conservationists and advocates. The announcement I have been fearing for some time has occurred; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to remove federal protections from the northern Rockies gray wolf.

While I, and many others here at Defenders, are excited about the great progress that wolves have made since their introduction in 1995, I don't believe that the time is right to remove all federal protections from wolves in the Yellowstone region. Scientists tell us that wolves in the northern Rockies are still vulnerable. We now risk throwing decades of time and money down the drain for political considerations instead of sound scientific principles and long-term thinking.

If the wolf is delisted, the future of this iconic and magnificent creature will be determined by the short-sighted and politically motivated state management plans of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, which do not ensure a sustainable future for the region's wolves. There is a very real possibility that more than 70 percent of the current wolf population will be eradicated under the new plans. In real terms, this means the slaughter of more than 1,000 wolves.

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