Expresses Concern for Impending Decision to Remove Wolves from Endangered Species Act

Recently, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell urging her to continue critical protections for endangered gray wolves. The letter acknowledges the independent peer review that found the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) failed to use the “best available science” when it drafted a proposed rule that would remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states with the exception of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf.

The Senator stated, “Specifically, the Northeastern ecosystems are lacking a top carnivore as evidenced by large deer populations. A necessary element for maintaining healthy ecosystems is the presence of large carnivores at ecologically effective population densities.

“I couldn’t agree with the senator more,” said wildlife biologist Dave Parsons, a science advisor for Project Coyote and the Northeast Wolf Coalition. “She has a keen understanding of the ecological importance of wolves and the ESA mandate for the use of best science in making decisions about their recovery and future conservation.”

Senator Gillibrand is not the only elected official to express such concerns. In December, 2013, Congressman Raul Grijalva and 83 colleagues wrote and urged Interior Department officials to “listen to the many wildlife and conservation scientists who believe this proposal is premature.” In March, 2014, following an independent peer review of the scientific basis for delisting gray wolves, Congressman Peter DeFazio and 73 colleagues also wrote expressing concerns about the proposal. They recommended that the proposed rule be rescinded immediately. In addition, in 2013, a team of scientists wrote about in the scientific journal Conservation Letters, “[The USFWS] entirely ignores a significant body of scientific knowledge… the proposed rule would set an unfortunate precedent with far-reaching consequences, including dramatically limiting recovery efforts for other species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).”

“These Congressional letters reflect the intent of Congress in drafting the ESA and the will of the U.S. citizenry who want the spirit and letter of our most powerful environmental law to be upheld for the gray wolf,” said Adrian Treves, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison, Science Advisor for Project Coyote and Northeast Wolf Coalition.

“It is apparent that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presided over a process in which political and economic considerations were at the forefront – not science,” stated Maggie Howell, coordinator for the Northeast Wolf Coalition and Executive Director of the Wolf Conservation Center in New York.

The Senator added, “The 2011 gray wolf delisting, specific to the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes region, has already lead to dramatic reductions in wolf populations, partially due to inadequate regulatory mechanisms and post-delisting monitoring as mandated explicitly by the ESA.”

The Senator concluded by recommending that the Secretary “not delist the gray wolf…further evaluate the scientific material used for this determination… and develop a recovery plan for wolves that includes continued legal protection in order to enhance restoration and recognizes the need to restore and protect the important ecological role for wolves across the United States.”

Read Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Secretary Jewell here.
Read Congressman Raul Grijalva’s Congressional sign-on letter to Secretary Jewell here.
Read Congressman Peter DeFazio’s Congressional sign-on letter to Secretary Jewell here.
Read Bruskotter et al. in Conservation Letters here


Northeast Wolf Coalition
Northeast Wolf Coalition is working group of partner organizations, and scientific advisers that collaborate on the critical issues that relate to wolf recovery in North America.

Project Coyote
Project Coyote is a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, predator friendly ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy.

Wolf Conservation Center
The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, NY is an environmental education organization committed to conserving wolf populations in North America through science-based education programming and participation in the federal Species Survival Plans for the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf and red wolf.

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