Contact: Leda Huta, [email protected], (202) 320-6467
Tara Thornton, [email protected], (207) 504-2705
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today announced its intention to remove Endangered Species Act protections for all gray wolves in the United States that are currently protected. The Endangered Species Coalition decried the move as political, and urged the Trump Administration not to abandon the still-recovering species.
“Wolves have only been restored in a tiny fraction of their historic and suitable range,” said Leda Huta, Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Wolf recovery could be one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories if the Fish and Wildlife Service would finish the job it started.”
There were once up to 2 million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals had been driven to near-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of the federal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf as endangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolf populations in limited parts of the country. Gray wolves returned on their own to the Western Great Lakes region and northwest Montana and were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, where they have made a successful comeback. However, wolves are still struggling in areas of Oregon and Washington, while only a few have made it to California or the southern Rockies, where substantial areas of suitable habitat exist. Roughly 5,500 wolves currently live in the continental United States – a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.
“Without the protections afforded by the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves would never have recovered in the places where they are now,” said Huta. “By removing protections across the country, the Trump Administration is essentially abandoning all efforts to restore this iconic American species to millions of acres of wild habitat.”
A similar proposal in 2013 outraged Americans: one million citizens submitted comments and 200 business leaders signed a letter in opposition to the plan to strip endangered species protections from gray wolves.
The wolf delisting notice was published in the Federal Register and will include a period for public comment, after which the rule can be finalized by the Trump Administration.