Grey Wolves are Still Protected by the Endangered Species Act

February 4, 2005

Gray wolf, canis lupus, in snow

This week, a court case has decided to maintain the grey wolf's endangered species protection status.

Defenders of Wildlife filed a suit after March 18, 2003, when the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to downlist the wolf from "endangered" status to "threatened" status. Such a move would have dramatically weakened the legal protection of the animal, and jeopardised it's recovery, according to wildlife campaigners.

Rodger Schlickeisen, Defenders of Wildlife's President, commented:

We all want to see the wolf recover to the point where it no longer needs federal protection. But, that recovery must be based on a proper review of the best science available. The Bush Administration failed to do this and proposed prematurely removing protections for the wolf and today the Court called them on it.

The Government's plans to reclassify the grey wolf were criticized as 'not based on science or the law' by the US District Court ruling. The Court ruled today that it was unlawful for the Administration to weaken legal protections for the grey wolf in large areas of its historic range based on recovery success in a just a few core areas like the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. This ruling calls into question other Bush Administration wolf proposals, one of which is their attempt to remove protections entirely for the wolves in the Northeastern United States.

Schlickeisen also stated:

"Today's decision shows that the Bush Administration is not a true partner when it comes to species conservation, that they only want to remove species protections as quickly as possible, regardless of what the science shows. It is only when all stakeholders, federal and local, work together, using the best available science, that true progress on species conservation can be made."