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Federal Legislation Would Strip ESA Protections for Gray Wolves

The Humane Society of the United States urges Congress to keep wolves protected and for USFWS to Downlist to Threatened

Representatives from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming introduced legislation that would remove gray wolves in those states from the Endangered Species list. This legislation comes on the heels of two recent court cases that placed wolves in the Great Lakes and Wyoming back under federal protection due to overreaching state management programs that jeopardized wolf recovery. It is the first of several bills expected to be introduced this Congress seeking to weaken protections for wolves and to subvert a series of federal court rulings that determined that the federal government has too narrowly segmented wolf populations and that the states had overreached in their trophy hunting, commercial trapping, and hounding programs. 

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response: 

“This legislation is an end-around a series of federal court rulings that have determined that state and federal agencies have acted improperly in acting to delist wolves.  This bill is just a the latest act of political bomb-throwing and gamesmanship, and lawmakers who want balance on the wolf issue should reject it.

In November, the Michigan voted overwhelmingly to increase protections for wolves and to put a stop to plans that would have allowed trophy hunting and commercial trapping of wolves.  And earlier this year, The HSUS and 21 animal protection and conservation organizations offered a reasonable alternative to congressional delisting and a path to national recovery by petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf which remains listed as endangered. If adopted, the proposal would continue federal oversight  and approval of wolf management efforts, but would also provide more  flexibility for state and local wildlife management to address specific wolf conflicts, including lethal control for depredation of livestock.

Earlier this year, a Washington State University peer-reviewed study revealed that wolf control efforts often trigger effects that result in more livestock depredation by breaking up packs and stimulating reproduction by survivors.



Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 240-672-8397; ksanderson@humanesociety.org