Groups ask court to restore protections for United States gray wolves

17 Janvier, 2021, 12:49 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Six environmental groups sue to relist gray wolves under Endangered Species Act

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Wildlife advocates on Thursday asked a federal court to overturn a USA government decision that stripped Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across most of the nation.

Critics of the move say continued protections are needed so fledgling wolf populations in Colorado and on the West Coast can continue to expand. "He and his mate represent the first generation of wolves in western OR in almost a century", said Joseph Vaile with the conservation group Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center based in southwest Oregon. A separate lawsuit is planned by Earthjustice representing national wildlife groups.

Both were filed in U.S. District Court for Northern California.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced on October 29 that the gray wolf would be removed from the endangered species list in what was declared a conservation triumph, drawing cheers from state and local officials concerned about the hit to livestock as well as to deer and elk herds.

The conservation groups have always been active on wolf recovery issues in the American West, including working with Western states to develop science-based wolf management plans, mounting cases to rein in rogue federal government wolf-killing programs, promoting recovery efforts in the Southwest for critically imperiled Mexican gray wolves, and working with local governments and landowners to deploy non-lethal tools that prevent wolf-livestock conflicts. "This action reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law". The Service concluded that because in its belief there are sufficient wolves in the Great Lakes states, it does not matter that wolves in the West are not yet recovered.

Meanwhile. wolves on the Pacific Coast lag far behind those in the Northern Rockies.

About 108 wolves have made their way to Washington state, with 158 in OR and 15 in California. "After decades of absence, gray wolves are starting to re-inhabit park landscapes in Oregon, Washington, California and Colorado".

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Minnesota is the only state, other than Alaska, that has never lost its entire wolf population.

"The delisting we've challenged today represents the latest chapter in the sad saga of the Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to do its duty to protect and ensure the recovery of wolves under the Endangered Species Act", said Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for the Humane Society of the United States. "By any scientific measure, gray wolves no longer meet the ESA's standard for protection and so should be delisted". "This decision, if it stands, will short circuit gray wolf recovery, limit the range available to wolf packs, and subject wolves to fragmented state laws, some with hostile anti-wolf policies".

"Returning this type of unscientific and barbaric "management" to states at this early juncture would spell disaster for true gray wolf recovery, plain and simple", said Lindsay Larris, WildEarth Guardians wildlife program director.

The Center for Biological Diversity Friday filed a formal notice of its intent to sue the Trump administration over its alleged failure to protect four plant and animal species, including a butterfly now found only in San Diego County and Baja California. "Eighty-five percent of wolves we know were killed in Washington were in the Kettle River Range where gray wolf was delisted from the Endangered Species Act in 2009, though it remained state listed endangered".

"Gray wolves are still missing from vast areas of the country", she said. "Without Endangered Species protections, wolves just starting to return to places like California and the Pacific Northwest will be extremely vulnerable".

The lawsuits could complicate an effort to reintroduce wolves in sparsely populated western Colorado under a November initiative approved by voters, a state official told wildlife commissioners Thursday.

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