Federal Court restores Endangered Species Act protection to gray wolf

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OAKLAND, California– A federal judge today reinstated protections for gray wolves, overturning a Trump-era rule that stripped endangered animal species law protections across most of the country. Today’s ruling bans wolf hunting and trapping in states outside of the northern Rockies.

“This is a huge win for gray wolves and the many people across the country who care so deeply about them,” said Collette Adkins, director of carnivore conservation at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I hope this decision finally convinces the Fish and Wildlife Service to abandon its longstanding and misguided efforts to remove federal wolf protections. Instead, the agency should work to restore these large, ecologically important carnivores to places like the southern Rockies and the northeastern United States.

In his 26-page decision, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White wrote, “…the Service’s analysis relied on two primary wolf populations to remove wolves from the national list and did not provide reasonable interpretation of the ‘significant part of its range’ standard.” So he rescinded the delisting rule and reinstated protection for wolves in the Great Lakes region, the West Coast states, and south of the Rocky Mountains.

“Again and again we have had to take the fight for Wolves to court,” Adkins said. “I am relieved that the court has put things right, but I am saddened that hundreds of wolves have suffered and died under this illegal radiation rule. It will take years to repair the damage done to wolf populations.

Today’s victory is the result of a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and Oregon Wild.

The court’s decision does not restore protection for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains because wolves in that region lost protection before the delisting rule challenged in this case. However, in response to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined in September that protecting the species in the northern Rocky Mountains might be justified based largely about new laws in Idaho and Montana that allow the killing of wolves.

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