Breaking: Trump Admin Just Stripped Gray Wolves of Endangered Species Act Protection Across Lower 48 States

(EnviroNews Nature) — Bloomington, Minnesota — In 1978, the gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in every state in the contiguous U.S. except Minnesota, where it was listed as threatened. Since then, farmers, ranchers, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Administrations from Clinton and Bush to Obama and Trump have tried to oust the iconic animal from the endangered list. On Oct. 29, 2020, the Trump Administration succeeded in that aim and stripped the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the endangered species list in the lower 48 states, in what wildlife advocates are calling a “last-ditch ploy for Midwest votes.” Conservation groups have already mobilized to challenge the move, which comes a scant five days before the election.

Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt made the announcement at the Minnesota Valley River National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington, Minnesota, where he hailed the decision as a conservation success story.

“After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery. Today’s announcement simply 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,” Bernhardt added in a press release.

Conservations groups strongly disagree. Nevertheless, management of the apex predator will now be handed over to the states and tribal governments 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The rule excludes the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a subspecies of gray wolf.

“The battle over wolf recovery is, unfortunately, both politically charged and partisan,” said Lindsay Larris, Wildlife Program Director with WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), in a press release. “For decades, ranchers have demonized wolves because they are an impediment to carefree, inexpensive grazing of private livestock on public lands. Finalizing delisting of wolves a few days before an election is a gift to the ranching and agricultural interests, plain and simple.”

Farmers, ranchers, and livestock-dependent business applauded the move citing the amount of damage and economic loss due to wolf depredation.

“With this ruling, management of the gray wolf is now in the hands of state officials who can best manage the population to benefit beef and livestock producers, as well as gray wolf habitat in our state,” said Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association President Mike Landuyt in a press release.

Gray wolves are protected by state laws in California and Washington, but other states, including Oregon, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming have continued to allow hunting and killing of the iconic animal through a loophole created by Congress. In Idaho alone from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, 570 wolves, including young pups, were killed in a 12-month span according to Idaho Press.

“This is yet another example of the Trump Administration ignoring science,” Larris continued. “From climate change denial, to their gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to rollbacks of environmental safeguards protecting clean air and water, this administration has proven time and time again that they’re only in it for themselves, even if it means ignoring and denying the facts.”

There are between 5,000 and 6,000 wolves in the contiguous United States, even though they occupy less than 10 percent of their historical range according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

An alliance of legendary environmental groups have already announced they will be suing Uncle Sam over the move. The coalition includes Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, Cascadia Wildlands, Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center, The Lands Council, Kettle Range Conservation Group, Klamath Forest Alliance, Wildlands Network, and Rocky Mountain Wild. These plaintiffs will be represented in court by the Western Environmental Law Center. In a press release, the Center for Biological Diversity announced it will file a separate lawsuit as well.


Sen. Barrasso has been at the forefront in numerous attempts to get the wolf delisted in his home state of Wyoming and several other places. He has sponsored no fewer than four bills aiming to leave the wild canine unprotected: S. 2281 in 2015, S. 659 section 14, which included other states and Wyoming, and section 15, which only included Wyoming, S. 164 in 2017, and S. 1514 in 2017.

In 1982, Congress proposed to introduce “experimental populations” declared “non-essential” and treated as threatened into Central Idaho and Yellowstone. The “non-essential” and “threatened” designations allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to establish “special rules” for the killing of the wolves, which the USFWS wouldn’t have been able to do if the wolves had been declared “essential.” Lawsuits challenged the reintroduction, and in 1992, Congress denied funding, through a rider to an appropriations bill, to release any wolves in Central Idaho or Yellowstone that year. It wasn’t until 1995 and 1996 that 66 gray wolves were relocated to those areas. In 2010, the wolf population for Yellowstone and Central Idaho was 1,651.

In 2003, the USFWS tried to reduce protections for gray wolves by creating “distinct population segments” (DPS). The agency’s plan was shut down by two court decisions that vacated the rule and said the plan violated the ESA. In 2007 and 2008, the USFWS gave it another go and tried to create two different DPSes. Again, the courts rejected the ploy with the District Court of Montana issuing an injunction against delisting the gray wolf and the District Court of the District of Columbia citing that the USFWS use of the DPS was contrary to its stated intent and that of the ESA.

In 2009, the USFWS created 74 Fed. Reg. 15123 which once again delisted the gray wolf in all of its range except in Wyoming, where a state plan was not in place to oversee the recovery of the wolf. The agency withdrew that effort after being sued.

In 2010, after Wyoming created a plan, the courts ordered the USFWS to review that plan to see if it was viable and would improve the management of the wolf in the state.

In 2011, Congress inserted section 1713 into the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. This section did not mention the gray wolf by name; instead, it simply said the rule would be reissued and not subjected to judicial review:

Before the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall reissue the final rule published on April 2, 2009 (74 Fed. Reg. 15123 et seq.) without regard to any other provision of statute or regulation that applies to issuance of such rule. Such reissuance (including this section) shall not be subject to judicial review and shall not abrogate or otherwise have any effect on the order and judgment issued by the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming in Case Numbers 09-CV-118J and 09-CV-138J on November 18, 2010.

This was the first time that Congress directed the USFWS to delist a species. The agency delisted the wolves in Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and north-central Utah. The wolves in other states kept their protected status as an endangered or threatened species. In 2012, the USFWS delisted the gray wolf in Wyoming, and in 2013, the agency proposed a rule to delist the animal in the rest of the United States.

In 2014, the USFWS was handed another loss in court when the United States District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the final rule at 76 FR 81666 delisting the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes. While the U.S. Court of Appeals disagreed with the reasons behind the ruling, it upheld the lower court’s vacatur because the agency failed to consider the impacts of partial delisting and the historical range loss. The 2012 Wyoming rule was also vacated by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia but was reinstated in 2017 when the D.C. Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision.

In 2018, the 115th Congress attempted to strip the gray wolf’s ESA protection 15 times. It finally succeeded in passing H.R. 6784 in November, which would have delisted the animals and disallowed judicial interference. It was sent to the Senate and read twice but never passed.

As of June 2019, the gray wolf was delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS, listed as threatened in Minnesota and endangered in 44 other states and Mexico.

“Again and again, the courts have rejected premature removal of wolf protection,” said Collette Adkins, Carnivore Conservation Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “But instead of pursuing further wolf recovery, the Fish and Wildlife Service has just adopted the broadest, most destructive delisting rule yet.”


The end result of successful delisting is that the states will manage their own wolf populations. In Wyoming, that means established hunting seasons between September and March with bag limits up to 10 depending on the hunting area. The state has agreed to maintain 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone would provide an additional buffer to bring the total number of wolves statewide to 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves. However, those wolves designated as “predatory” may be killed year-round and without a hunting permit or license. As of December 2019, Wyoming had 311 wolves with 22 breeding pairs, and people were responsible for 88 of 96 documented wolf deaths according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. In July 2020, the number of wolves had increased to about 343 with the USFWS, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and former Wyoming Governor Matt Mead agreeing to a “shoot-on-sight” management program for the state’s wolves, as reported by EnviroNews in March 2017.

In 2014, Idaho sold tickets for a gray wolf “killing derby” but was inconvenienced when environmental groups sued the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for permitting such an activity on federal lands. The BLM denied the use of 3.1 million acres of land, but the derby went on when the U.S. Forest Service refused to revoke its permits. Starting Jan. 2, 2015, hunters were competing to kill the most wolves. The winner would receive $1,000 from the State of Idaho’s coffers. Hunters would also be able to sell their pelts on-site. Fewer than 100 hunters participated, and no wolves were killed during the derby thanks to an earthquake in the area that spooked the animals.

The Foundation for Wildlife Management, a non-profit in Idaho, has offered a bounty for wolves since 2012. In 2019, the state decided to help fund the non-profit in return for wolf kills in elk recovery areas. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission gave the group $23,065.

In 2014, Montana opened a six-month-long gray wolf hunting season after one wolf was killed in an early season bow-hunt. At the end of the year, the state reported the wolf population had declined by 12 percent. Hunters and trappers had killed 206 wolves during the winter harvest according to the Spokesman-Review. There are an estimated 830 wolves in Montana in 2019.

Oregon’s plan for gray wolf management allows for killing any wolf that attacks livestock twice in a nine-month period. There were 158 wolves in Oregon at the end of 2019.


Cattlemen Tell EnviroNews Ranchers Want Mexican Wolves Killed, Despite Being Paid for Livestock Losses

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Parts of eastern Arizona are a conflict zone, as a 100-year war between ranchers, conservation groups, government agencies, and the endangered Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) rages on. The rarest subspecies of gray wolf, also known as “el lobo,” is doing what wolves have always…


Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Rep. Peter DeFazio is out to Stop USDA’s Cruel Wolf and Coyote Poison Bombs for Good

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Washington D.C. – On March 30, 2017, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 1817), which seeks to ban the use of two deadly poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, for predator control efforts throughout the United States. These…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Elk Hunting Group Wants to Expand Wolf-Killing Derby into Montana: $1,000 Bounty per Wolf

(EnviroNews Montana) – The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), which has funded wolf-killing derbies in Idaho to the tune of $150,000 since 2013, is now seeking to expand its $1,000-per-kill bounty program to the neighboring state of Montana. RMEF provides funds to the Foundation for Wildlife Management (F4WM),…

Idaho Wolf-Killing Contest Killed for One More Year – Kind of…

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Facing a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has revoked a permit allowing for a “predator derby” to take place on approximately three million acres of public lands in north-central Idaho near the town of Salmon. The derby originally called for…

California the First to Ban Predator Prizes While Idaho Forges Ahead With Wolf-Killing Derby

(EnviroNews California) – Van Nuys, CA – Will not allowing prizes for California wildlife hunting derbies deter such events from taking place? Groups like Project Coyote certainly think so. On December 3, with a 4 to 1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a motion prohibiting…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

Daryl Hannah Tells Her Story of the Wolf

(EnviroNews California) – In this very unique episode, Daryl Hannah tells her story of how she bonded with wild wolves in the great outdoors. Via our coverage of the 2011 New Living Expo in San Francisco California.

USDA Caves to Public Pressure, Agrees to Remove All Coyote/Wolf Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Hailey, Idaho – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS), which kills millions of wild animals in the U.S. each year, agreed April 10, 2017, to temporarily halt the use of M-44 cyanide bombs for predator control initiatives in Idaho….

It’s Done: Trump Signs HJR 69 into Law Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On April 3, 2017, President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) into law. The legislation rescinds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2016 Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule). The Refuge Rule was enacted to protect native…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Center for Biological Diversity Sues Trump for Signing HJR 69 Allowing Slaughter of Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups

(EnviroNews USA Headline News) – Washington D.C. – The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 20, 2017, against the U.S. Department of Interior (Interior) and Secretary Ryan Zinke, after President Donald Trump signed House Joint Resolution…

Signable Petition Demands Zinke to Reject HJR 69, Trump’s Bear Cub/Wolf Pup Killing Bill

(EnviroNews World News) – PETITION WATCH: The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) has launched an online petition via the Care2 platform demanding Department of the Interior (Interior) Secretary Ryan Zinke “deny any request by Alaska for predator control in wildlife refuges.” This, after House Joint Resolution 69…


Governments in CO/UT/NM/AZ Deliberately Derailed Mexican Wolf Recovery, Documents Reveal (Investigative Report)

(EnviroNews Colorado) – After decades of deliberation the final revision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan (the Plan) was released at the end of November, but former USFWS officials tell EnviroNews it strays far from scientists’ minimum recommendations for recovery of the…

Breaking News: Wildlife Orgs Sue Trump Admin for Failing to Protect ‘El Lobo,’ the Mexican Wolf

(EnviroNews Nature) – Environmental organizations filed a lawsuit on January 30, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Arizona against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), alleging the agency violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by ignoring science relevant to the recovery of the beleaguered Mexican wolf (Canis…

Victory for Mexican Gray Wolves: Court Stops Injunction, Allows Releases from Captivity to Proceed

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) can continue to release Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) from captivity into the wild after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction halting the program on April 25, 2017, which conservationists say…

USFWS Hiring ‘Wolf Killer’ to Trap Endangered Mexican Gray Wolves and Greens Are ‘Furious’

(EnviroNews Arizona) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced it intends to hire known wolf exterminator William Bennett Nelson of Bill Nelson Wildlife Control to trap and radio-collar endangered Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in New Mexico and Arizona, causing “fury” amongst environmental and…

Big Win for ‘El Lobo’: Fed. Court Strikes Down ‘Egregious’ Management Rule For Mexican Wolves

(EnviroNews Nature) – In a win for nature fans, the United States District Court in Arizona struck down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service/USFWS) management rule for the endangered Mexican grey wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), finding that it “provides only for short-term survival of the species…

Leave a Reply


  1. Breaking: Trump Admin Just Stripped Gray Wolves of Endangered Species Act Protection Across Lower 48 States - EnviroNews - Hunt Skope - October 29, 2020

    […] (function(d, s, id){ var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) {return;} js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = ""; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, "script", "facebook-jssdk")); Source link […]

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,