Today, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is removing gray wolves in the lower 48 contiguous states from the list of species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund urge the agency to withdraw this proposal.

“The FWS announcement is the latest in a series of misguided and premature regulatory and legislative attempts to remove federal protections for gray wolves and jeopardize their continued recovery. The best available science does not support delisting, and experience shows that reckless trophy hunting and trapping awaits wolves who lose these vital protections,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “In December, we, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, proposed an alternative way forward based on sound science and legal grounds. We urge the FWS to accept our proposed solution.”

The FWS’ announcement hands management authority over wolves to state wildlife agencies. Unfortunately, those agencies cater to a narrow group of special interests: the trophy hunters and trappers who want to kill wolves for bragging rights, social media opportunities and to increase deer and elk populations. The majority of Americans are wildlife watchers and want wolves and other wildlife protected, conserved and humanely treated. As apex carnivores, wolves keep their prey species healthy, and wolf behavior keeps ecosystems biologically diverse.

“Just last November, Americans were heartbroken by the disturbing killing of the famous Yellowstone wolf, Spitfire, by a trophy hunter in Montana. The FWS’ announcement places hundreds of imperiled wolves like Spitfire in the crosshairs of trophy hunters, and threatens the continued recovery of the species,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “Wolves occupy a mere fraction of their historic range, and it would be unwise to remove these critical federal protections.”

The Humane Society of the United States recently released ground-breaking reports demonstrating the rarity of cattle and sheep losses from wolves, grizzly bears and cougars. Using the most recent data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the reports show that nine times more livestock die from disease, weather events, birthing problems, theft and other maladies than from all predators combined. In the states where wolves live, less than one percent of unwanted cattle and sheep losses are attributed to wolves. You can view our livestock losses reports for wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions.

The delisting will result in more wolves like Spitfire, a beautiful and much-admired black wolf, being killed. Spitfire was shot by a trophy hunter as she stepped outside the bounds of Yellowstone National Park.  Wolves are worth millions of dollars to the economies of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, studies show, because of the millions who visit national parks in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Montana State Sen. Mike Phillips has introduced a bill to create a buffer zone to protect wolves who venture from Yellowstone National Park into Montana.

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