Conservation Groups Fight to Get Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves Back on the Endangered Species List


photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Over 100 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolves have been killed since the Bush Administration removed the wolves from the federal list of endangered species last year. The State of Idaho recently proposed killing another 120 in the Clearwater region alone and may destroy an additional 26 packs statewide. In response, the Natural Resources Defense Council and numerous other conservation groups are suing the US Fish and Wildlife Service to stop the slaughter.The NRDC recently announced a legal challenge to the recent US Fish and Wildlife Service decision to remove wolves from the federal Endangered Species List. Earthjustice filed the legal challenge on behalf of NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and Wildlands Project.

"Last time the Service removed legal protections, there was an all out war on wolves in the weeks that followed," said Louisa Willcox, Director of the NRDC's office in Livingston, Mont. "We are so incredibly close to fulfilling the conditions necessary to declare the wolves' comeback as complete, but this move threatens to undo what should be an incredible conservation success story."

Jeremy previously wrote about the last minute injunction granted by a federal judge in Montana that returned the gray wolf to endangered species status. In that judgement, U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy didn't mince words in criticizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's ill-advised decision to take the wolf off the list. In fact, he called it baseless and dangerous.

Then, in January, the Bush Administration again tried to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list for the fourth time. But a federal court judge struck down the decision just as in the previous three cases, so for now the wolves maintain their endangered status.

According to the NRDC, Congress first designated them as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The wolf population had been making a comeback. Recently, however, disease has taken its toll on gray wolf packs in and around Yellowstone National Park. Similarly, the population growth rate for gray wolves in the broader region's population has fallen, which is further proof of the wolves' vulnerable status.

More on Saving the Wolves:
Time to Cry, Wolf
One More Time with Feeling: Bush Administration Renews Efforts to Remove Gray Wolf from Protected List
Wolves In The Night - What's The Political Climate?

Tags: Conservation | Endangered Species