Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that it will undertake a formal status review of gray wolves in the western US. This agreement to review the endangered status of the gray wolf is a direct result of petitions filed earlier this year by the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and The Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society Legislative Fund stressing the serious threats to wolves from extreme, inhumane new laws passed in Montana and Idaho.
The Service finds the petitioners present substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S. The Service also finds that new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat. Therefore, the Service finds that gray wolves in the western U.S. may warrant listing.
While the USFWS did not agree to an emergency relisting of Northern Rockies wolves, they still might do so as a result of ongoing pressure. Numerous Tribal nations are also calling for the emergency relisting of gray wolves and for the Biden administration to honor treaty and trust obligations that require consultation with the Tribes on protection and management of gray wolves.
“Today’s decision by the [Fish and Wildlife] Service is a step toward recognizing serious new threats to wolves from hostile state management policies, but it falls short of granting the emergency protection that wolves need right now,” said Bonnie Rice, a senior representative with the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “The goal of Montana and Idaho’s extreme new laws is to decimate wolf populations in the Northern Rockies. It makes no sense to allow wolves to be driven back to the brink of extinction and reverse over 40 years of wolf recovery efforts.”
Newly-passed laws in Montana and Idaho—intended to reduce the wolf populations in those states by 80 percent and 90 percent respectively—are taking us back 100 years to when wolves were driven to near extinction in this country. Without reinstatement of Endangered Species protections, wolf populations in the Northern Rockies will be decimated to a fraction of what is needed for biological recovery. Under Montana’s new extreme laws, the state can reduce the population to just 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs, meaning that approximately 700 wolves could be killed. These new laws also allow unethical methods such as baiting, spotlighting wolves at night, and allowing a single license holder to kill an unlimited number of wolves.
The Endangered Species Act requires that the Service make a final decision within one year of the May 26, 2021 petition.
Sierra Club Media Team