Statement from United States Representative Peter DeFazio
“The rebound of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains has been a boon for local economies, wildlife enthusiasts, and the ecosystems of these areas that have benefitted from the return of this keystone predator. Studies in Yellowstone National Park found that the presence of wolves benefitted a myriad of species from pronghorn antelope, to songbirds, and aquatic species while dramatically and noticeably restoring riparian areas destroyed by overgrazing. While there is much to be proud of, there remains considerable progress to be made towards wolf recovery in the lower 48 states. Gray wolves have only just begun to return to portions of the Pacific Northwest, California, southern Rocky Mountains and Northeast. It would be disastrous for wolf recovery and ecosystems should U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services delist the wolf. I will continue to fight for needed protections for greater recovery of this important and popular species. ”
Statement by Leda Huta, Executive Director of Endangered Species Coalition
Welcome everyone and thank you for joining us today to call on Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell to protect America’s wolves.
My name is Leda Huta, and I am the Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. I spend much of my time in offices here in Washington, DC defending the Endangered Species Act. But, last year, I was fortunate to see wolves in the wild for the first time. It was hard to believe it. But on a chilly June morning, I was among dozens of other wolf-watchers in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone, whose patience paid off when we got a glimpse of several wolves, running free.
Beautiful, strong and wild, America’s gray wolves once ranged across most of the United States. But, centuries of hunting, trapping and poisoning eliminated wolves from almost all of the lower 48. Today, thanks to the safety net of the Endangered Species Act, wolves are finally recovering in wild places. After much hard work by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they were returned to Yellowstone, where we learned just how important wolves are for the ecosystem and what a vital part they are of America’s wilderness and natural heritage.
Wolves are at the top of the food chain. When wolves came back, elk, which had become complacent—hanging out in wide-open spaces by the rivers—changed their behavior and stayed in areas with more cover. As a result, trees along the riverbanks of Yellowstone began to grow again. Songbirds and beavers returned to these habitats. And even fish benefited as the shade from the trees cooled their river waters. Wolves brought balance back to nature in Yellowstone, and they could do the same in other wild lands.
Wolves are expanding, making their way into places like California, Maine and New Hampshire. And we know that because of wolves like Journey. Journey, here, is an incredible wolf. He has traveled alone more than 1,000 miles, leaving behind his family in Oregon to explore California. When he did that, he made history, becoming the only wild wolf known to be in California in the last 90 years. We’re grateful to have him visit with us here today. [Our Mascot waves.]
This growing recovery of the gray wolf is one of our nation’s greatest conservation success stories. But our work isn’t done yet. Just as these wolves are beginning to return, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell is proposing to strip the safety net from America’s gray wolves across the country and allow widespread shooting, trapping and poisoning of wolves again.
In places where the Endangered Species Act has already been removed, humans have become very efficient at killing hundreds upon hundreds of wolves. If the current proposal is approved, any wolves moving back to our shared wild lands, like Journey here, will be targeted. And there is no way that these wolves will ever be able to make new homes in their old stomping grounds.
Today, raising families of curious pups and romping in meadows, the wolf is coming back. Our children can experience its howl in many of our wild places. We can’t let the symbol of the American wild and our natural heritage be silenced forever.
We only have a month to act. Let’s not let the Federal Government walk away from wolves now. Join us in telling Secretary Jewell to protect our American gray wolf.
Please sign our petition. Go to standforwolves.org and show your support by submitting comments and uploading photos and videos of yourself declaring your support for America’s wolves.
Text of statement of young person active in California:
“My name is Snowy Sabel, I am 10 years old and I live in Portola Valley, California. If wolves are taken off the endangered species list their ecosystem will not work correctly and eventually it will die out. I love wolves because of the way that they work together in packs and communicate with each other. If hunters shoot wolves they will become extinct. Since wolves cannot speak a human language they can’t tell us what they want or need. Please let wolves have a chance to fully recover before they are taken off the endangered Species List.”
Text of statements from young people speaking at the Washington, D.C. rally in support of protecting wolves:
Jack Russell (12)
Hello. My name is Jack Russell, I am twelve years old and I am here today to tell you and Secretary of Interior Jewell why we need to protect wolves.
Wolves are beautiful animals and have been friends and companions with people for tens of thousands of years. All domestic dogs today are descended from wolves. When you look into your dog’s eyes and see its playfulness and intelligence, you are looking at the legacy of the wolf.
Wolves are loving parents, just like my mom and dad. Adult pups will bring bones to pups as gifts. All the wolves in a pack will play and help care for wolf pups. The pack works together and cares for each other just like a human family.
I just spent three weeks camping in Ohio and learned to live in the wild without electricity. Being in the wilderness was an exciting experience and made me want to visit more wild places. I hope someday that I will have the thrill of hearing or seeing a wolf in the wild. But, for that to happen, we need to really protect wolves so that they can return to more places that they once roamed.
Wolves have the right to live. There are places in America that they can live, if they are protected. It would be so awesome to see them. That is my dream and I hope that Secretary Jewell will help make that happen.
Naoma Huta (6)
Hello, my name is Naoma Huta, and I am here to talk about saving wolves.
Wolves are endangered all over the world. And we want to keep the wolves that are here, here.
Why kill them? Why make it a long time until wolves come back? Or maybe even no wolves come back?
We need to tell the truth. They don’t want to hurt you.
Even if you have sheep or cows, you can protect them in other ways besides killing wolves. I
have a dog that is a Great Pyrenees. I know that he can protect farm animals from wolves.
We made a mistake when we killed all the wolves. Let’s learn from our mistake. Let’s keep saving wolves.