WASHINGTON, March 14, 2019 — The Trump administration today released its plan to strip gray wolves of Endangered Species Act protection across the lower 48 states.
If finalized, the proposal would allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in the Great Lakes states. It would completely halt recovery of wolves in most of the wolf’s former range.
The administration is only providing the public 60 days to review the complex proposal. No public hearings are set, and the proposal provides virtually no information on the peer-review process for this proposal.
“This cowardly and undemocratic effort to delist wolves shows the Trump administration has already decided to approve trophy hunts,” said Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Trump and his Interior Department are dead set on appeasing special interests that want to kill wolves, but we’ll stop them.”
Congress stripped wolves in Idaho and Montana of protections in 2011, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stripped protection from Wyoming wolves in 2017. This led to the killing of thousands of wolves and halted further recovery in these states.
The Fish and Wildlife Service also stripped protection from gray wolves in the Great Lakes region in 2011, allowing trophy hunting and trapping seasons in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, but the courts restored protection in 2014.
Gray wolf numbers in these states have only recently recovered to pre-hunt numbers. Nationwide, they remain at only about 5 percent of their historic abundance. Hunts will start anew if the Trump administration’s proposal is finalized.
“We’ll go to court to stop the Trump administration from prematurely stripping wolves of the lifesaving protections that rescued them from the brink of extinction,” Robinson added. “The livestock industry and trophy hunters want wolves dead, but we’ll make sure the feds fulfill their obligation to restore wolves across the country.”
In December the Center for Biological Diversity and the Humane Society of the United States petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to maintain protection for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
Before that, in November, the Center sued the Service for violating the Endangered Species Act by never providing a comprehensive recovery plan for gray wolves nationwide. If successful, that lawsuit would mean that wolves must remain federally protected until the Service implements a national recovery plan.