District Court rules to return Gray Wolf to endangered species list; USFWS announces status review of Gray Wolf in Rocky Mountains
State management remains for wolves in the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana while a February 10 ruling by a District Court judge in California returned the gray wolf everywhere else across the U.S. to the endangered species list.
“We are concerned that a judge in California didn’t uphold what the scientists at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) concluded about wolves in the U.S.,” said Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President. “Unfortunately, people in the upper Midwest and much of the rest of the nation must now live with a decision made by a judge in California.”
“Delisting the species nationwide two years ago was long overdue as wolf numbers across the country far exceeded scientifically established recovery numbers,” Hamilton continued.
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall expressed disappointment in the ruling through a February 10 news release.
“AFBF is extremely disappointed in the ruling to return the gray wolf to the endangered species list. The gray wolf exceeded recovery goals and should be celebrated as an Endangered Species Act (ESA) success story,” Duvall stated. “The ESA is intended to promote species recovery and delisting, not to impose permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. This ruling ignored ESA goals and threatens recovery efforts for other animals.”
“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of a healthy and thriving ecosystem,” Duvall concluded. “Management of the fully recovered gray wolf should be overseen by the states, which can best determine the most appropriate course of action for each region.”
In other wolf-related news, a notice of status review has been issued by the USFWS. The road to state management of wolves in Wyoming has been long and arduous with many U-turns along the way. On April 25, 2017 a Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. upheld Wyoming’s wolf management plan confirming Wyoming’s management of wolves.
“Wyoming met its commitment for wolf recovery in 2003 and almost a decade and a half later the state was able to manage wolves as outlined by the wolf recovery plan,” Hamilton explained.
And now here we are in 2022 with the USFWS announcing intent on January 31 to initiate a 12-month status review to determine whether a listing of a distinct population segment (DPS) of the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains or in the western United States under the ESA is warranted.
“A twelve-month status review of wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho may not mean anything, but recent statements by Interior Secretary Haaland indicates this is more about politics and catering to special interest groups that have the ear of the Secretary than about science,” Hamilton said.
“Wyoming’s wolf numbers continue to be well above the numbers established for a recovered population,” Hamilton continued. “Indeed, wolves from Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are populating surrounding states, so to initiate a status-review at this point comes across as purely political.”
Wyoming Governor Gordon issued a response in a February 3 news release.
“Secretary Haaland’s decision is very disappointing and indicates a strong disconnect between Washington D.C and realities on the ground,” Governor Gordon said. “In Wyoming, wolves have been successfully managed by our state’s wildlife experts since regaining authority in 2017.”
“I firmly stand behind our state wolf management plan that has served as our guide to ensure a viable, healthy population for a species that has met all recovery criteria for nearly two decades. Managing Wyoming’s wildlife from Washington D.C is not a good model and is counter to the intent of the Endangered Species Act,” Governor Gordon continued. “I urge the Secretary to ensure that the status review is grounded in science and recognizes the states’ strong track record effectively managing this species.”