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One Year after the Proposal to Remove Federal Protection for Wolves

One Year after the Proposal to Remove Federal Protection for Wolves


June 13, 2014

Contact: Melanie Gade; mgade@defenders.org; (202) 772-0288

WASHINGTON – The fate of wolves across most of the continental United States remains uncertain one year after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) proposed to delist wolves under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At each step of the delisting process, including written comments, public hearings, testimony and discrediting review from a panel of expert scientists, the Service's delisting proposal has been called into question for being shortsighted, premature and based upon bad science. Final action on the Service’s proposal is expected later this year or early next year.

Wolves remain imperiled, principally by state management plans that sponsor hostile and aggressive tactics designed to significantly reduce wolf populations, which in turn prevent wolves from reoccupying other states with suitable habitat. Already, states like Idaho have demonstrated they are not committed to sustainable wolf recovery and have adopted dramatic wolf killing management goals. If wolves are ultimately delisted by the federal government, states’ aggressive wolf killing programs will threaten continued recovery of the species in the West.

  • Idaho’s over-the-top killing programs have resulted in a 23 percent population decline since 2009, and a 59 percent decline in the number of breeding pairs. In March, Idaho implemented an even more aggressive taxpayer-funded killing campaign to drive the current wolf population down by almost 80 percent to as low as 150 animals, placing the species dangerously close to an unsustainable level in the state.
  • Wyoming continues to follow its own reckless approach to wolf management by allowing unlimited wolf killing in a “predator” zone extending over 80 percent of the state. This year, Wyoming is proposing to nearly double the number of wolves that hunters are able to kill in the trophy game area of the state.

Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark issued the following statement:

“Prematurely removing Endangered Species Act protection for wolves before the species has reached recovery throughout its range is one of the most shortsighted and destructive proposals I’ve seen in my 30 years of experience working with the Endangered Species Act.

“Over the past year, the Service received the largest volume of public comments ever submitted in opposition to a federal decision involving endangered species. In addition, a scientific peer review panel of expert scientists consulted by the Service rejected the science used by the Service to justify the delisting proposal. If the Service ignores the public and the best available science by ultimately delisting the wolf, western states like Idaho foreshadow what future wolf management could look like: unsustainable and costly wolf killing programs that dramatically reduce wolf numbers and the connectivity necessary for wolves to expand into unoccupied habitat. The Service will have turned back the clock a hundred years on predator conservation in this country and turned its own back on one of the greatest conservation success stories of the 20th century.

“The public and the scientific community have provided the Service all the feedback it needs. The Service must reject its current delisting proposal and instead chart a course for wolf recovery based on science.”


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org.