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Press Release: Obama Administration Strips Wolf Protections Across Most of Lower 48 States

Plan Ends Prospects of Wolf Recovery in Southern Rockies, California, Northeast, Pacific Northwest -Center for Biological Diversity, June 7, 2013

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Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
















WASHINGTON— In a move questioned by some of the world’s leading wolf researchers, the Obama administration announced plans today to prematurely strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states, abruptly ending one of America’s most important species recovery programs. The proposal concludes that wolf protection in the continental United States, in place since 1978, is no longer needed, even though there are fledgling populations in places like the Pacific Northwest whose survival hinges on continued federal protection. 

“This is like kicking a patient out of the hospital when they’re still attached to life support,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves cling to a sliver of their historic habitat in the lower 48, and now the Obama administration wants to arbitrarily declare victory and move on. They need to finish the job that Americans expect, not walk away the first chance they get. This proposal is a national disgrace. Our wildlife deserve better.”

Wolves today occupy just 5 percent of their historic habitat in the continental United States. Today’s proposal means that wolves will never fully reoccupy prime wolf habitat in the southern Rocky Mountains, California and Northeast, and will hinder ongoing recovery in the Pacific Northwest.

The proposal will hand wolf management over to state wildlife agencies across most of the country – a step that has meant widespread killing in recent years. Following removal of protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes in 2011, states in those regions quickly enacted aggressive hunting and trapping seasons designed to drastically reduce wolf populations. In the northern Rocky Mountains more than 1,100 wolves have been killed since protections were removed; this year populations declined by 7 percent.

“By locking wolves out of prime habitat across most this country, this proposal perpetuates the global phenomena of eliminating predators that play hugely important roles in ecosystems,” said Greenwald. “Wolves are well documented to benefit a host of other wildlife from beavers and fish, to songbirds and pronghorn.” 

In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, today’s proposal maintains protections for the Mexican gray wolf as a separate subspecies. Only 75 Mexican wolves roam a recovery area restricted to portions of Arizona and New Mexico. The population has not grown as expected because of a combination of illegal poaching and government mismanagement that requires wolves to be removed from the wild or killed when they leave the recovery area or depredate livestock. 

“It’s obvious that Mexican gray wolves continue to need protection and we’re glad they’re getting it,” said Greenwald. “But it is equally obvious that wolves in the Pacific Northwest, southern Rockies, California and Northeast also need continued protection.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 500,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
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ACT NOW
Contact Interior Secretary Jewell - tell her to stop this plan to prematurely delist wolves throughout the lower 48 states!

Phone : (202) 208-3100
Email : feedback@ios.doi.gov
Department of Interior’s website

Please also contact your members of Congress and ask them to use
their influence to stop this plan to prematurely delist wolves throughout the lower 48 states!

Talking Points

Talk about your personal connection to wolves and why the issue is important to you. If you’re a grandmother wanting your grandchildren to have the opportunity to hear wolves in the wild, or a hunter who recognizes that wolves make game herds healthier, or a businessperson who knows that wolves have brought millions in ecotourism dollars to Yellowstone, say so.

Point out that the scientists whose research is referenced in the draft rule to remove the gray wolves' protections have stated in a recent letter that the science does not support the delisting.

Express your support for relisting Mexican wolves as an endangered subspecies and point out that delisting gray wolves throughout the U.S. is counter to protecting Mexican wolves. Fewer than 80 Mexican gray wolves exist in the wild. New populations of these wolves are desperately needed for them to thrive. But the draft plan would leave gray wolves unprotected in places where this endangered subspecies could and should live. This will make protection of Mexican gray wolves much more difficult should they expand into Utah or Colorado and make it unlikely that any wolves will be able to naturally reestablish a presence in the Southern Rockies, a region with excellent suitable habitat where wolves were once found.

Describe the ecological benefits of wolves to entire ecosystems and all wildlife. Wildlife biologists believe that Mexican wolves will improve the overall health of the Southwest and its rivers and streams – just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone has helped restore balance to its lands and waters. Science has repeatedly demonstrated that wolves are keystone carnivores who help to keep wildlife like elk and deer healthy and bring balance to the lands they inhabit.

Thank you for taking action today for wolves!
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