Restoring Gray Wolf Protections Nationwide

Wolves belong. They were here for millennia before settlers nearly succeeded in eradicating them from the so-called “New World.” Always survivors, wolves held on, narrowly staving off extinction and embarking on a long and difficult journey toward recovery. In some parts of the country, wolves are reproducing successfully and contributing to healthy ecosystems in many ways. In the West, however, the scientific consensus says wolves are far from recovered.

The most recent data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its state partners show an estimated 4,400 wolves inhabit the western Great Lakes states, but only 108 wolves exist in Washington state, 158 in Oregon, and a scant 15 in California. Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain functionally extirpated in these states.

That didn’t stop the Trump administration from prematurely stripping wolves of endangered species protections throughout the contiguous 48 states, however. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is saying through its actions that it does not matter that wolves in the West are not yet recovered because in its belief there are sufficient wolves in the Great Lakes states. The Endangered Species Act demands more, including restoring the species in the ample suitable habitats afforded by the wild public lands throughout the West.

Wolves are listed as endangered under state laws in Washington and California, and wolves only occupy a small portion of available, suitable habitat in Oregon. Likewise, wolves also remain absent across vast swaths of their historical, wild, public lands habitat in the West, including in Colorado and the southern Rockies.

Wolves are a keystone species whose presence on landscapes regulates animal populations and improves ecosystem health. Allowing people to kill wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana has already stunted recovery in those states. Applying this same death sentence to wolves throughout the contiguous U.S. would nationalize these negative effects, with potentially catastrophic ripple effects on ecosystems where wolves have yet to fully recover. We’re in court to restore those much-needed Endangered Species Act protections, for wolves and for the ecosystems that rely on them to thrive.


Project Updates

Western wolf coalition challenges nationwide wolf delisting

Today, a coalition of Western wolf advocates challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to prematurely strip wolves of federal protections in the contiguous 48 states, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The most recent data from the U.S. Fish...

Wolf coalition launches challenge to nationwide wolf delisting

On Friday, Nov. 6, a coalition of Western wolf advocates filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, launching a challenge of the agency’s decision to prematurely strip wolves of federal protections in the contiguous 48 states, in violation of...


John Mellgren: Bio | Docket

Kelly Nokes: Bio | Docket


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