SANTA MONICA, Calif. April 17, 2019— The California Fish and Game Commission today voted to formally oppose the Trump administration’s proposal to end federal wolf protection across the country.

“We commend the Fish and Game Commission for taking a stand against the Trump administration’s assault on wildlife by opposing its move to strip protection from wolves nationwide,” said Jenny Keatinge, California wildlife policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump’s plan threatens wolf recovery in California and would set a dangerous precedent that undermines recovery of many other federally endangered species statewide.”

More than 30 people spoke in defense of wolves before today’s vote. The commission meeting was preceded by a rally for wolves with more than 40 wildlife advocates in wolf masks.

In early March the Trump administration announced its proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protection from nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states. The move would end 40 years of wolf recovery across the country and leave many wolf populations vulnerable to more hunting, trapping and poisoning.

Although wolves in California would remain protected under state law, the removal of wolves’ protection in other states could leave California’s packs isolated and susceptible to inbreeding, essentially preventing the species’ state recovery.

“Wolves are just beginning to return home to California, and they still need federal protections to truly recover across the country,” said Keatinge. “There’s fierce opposition to Trump’s disastrous proposal, and we’re proud California has joined those ranks.”

A 2013 study found that wolves may have once been widely distributed in California. The animals have been part of the state’s cultural heritage for thousands of years. They were driven to extinction in California by the mid-1920s.

In late 2011 a wolf from Oregon, OR-7, entered the state, beginning the return of wolves to the area. Wolves are protected under California’s Endangered Species Act. Today fewer than a dozen known wolves live in Northern California.