On June 7, 2013, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its controversial plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.
Why the controversy?
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires that endangered species listing decisions must be governed by the best available science. Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology believe the delsiting rule is terribly premature. So who is correct, the scientists or the elected officials? The Wolf Conservation Center shares the same concerns expressed by the scientists and by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals.
Documents obtained by PEER through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit confirm that USFWS presided over a the delisting decision process with political and economic considerations at the forefront, not science.
“These documents confirm our worst suspicions that the fate of the wolf was decided at a political bazaar. The meeting notes certainly explain why no outside scientists were welcome,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch who had been seeking the records since April 2012. “From what we can see, Structured Decision Making was structured primarily to deal out the lower-48 population of gray wolves.”
Read the PEER Press Release
In the meantime, the 90-day public comment period continues until September 11, 2013. To submit your comment, please click HERE:
You can also email Secretary Jewell and your representatives. The National Wolfwatcher Coalition offers helpful talking points.
- Email Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
- Contact your members in the House of Representatives and Senate