In response to today’s announcement by acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service intends to move forward with their plan to remove Endangered Species Act protections for most gray wolves in the lower 48 states, Wildlands Network’s senior carnivore advocate Kim Crumbo released the following statement:
“This action is premature and not based on the reality faced by wolves in the wild. Full recovery of gray wolves requires a science-based approach, coordinated at the federal level to ensure populations are found throughout appropriate habitats and at a level that is viable in the long-term. It is imperative that the Endangered Species Act protections stay intact to safeguard these highly vulnerable, iconic and ecologically essential animals,” said Crumbo.
Scientists estimate that gray wolves were historically found throughout America, but there are currently only about 5,000 remaining. Gray wolves are currently protected under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states, outside of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and parts of Oregon, Washington, and Utah, where previous federal agency action has removed these protections. In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost federal protections, nearly 3,500 wolves have been killed since 2011.
Where protections still exist, recovery efforts continue to face obstacles, such as overcoming ingrained public resentment and hostility towards wolves in some areas, poaching, and a lack of genetic diversity that undermines sustainable population levels. Despite these obstacles, federal agencies working with state, local and NGO partners have been able to successfully increase wolf populations. Losing ESA protections would hinder these ongoing efforts and could lead to population decline, setting wolf recovery back decades.
Read more about our efforts to protect Mexican gray wolves.