The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Sierra Club this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal protection under the Endangered Species Act to gray wolves, after Idaho and Montana passed legislation aimed at reducing wolf populations in those states.
“Idaho’s and Montana’s legislative directives to kill wolves by nearly any means possible seriously endanger wolf populations in the West,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately return Endangered Species Act protections to these wolves to halt the impending statewide slaughters before it’s too late.”
In May Idaho’s legislature passed Senate Bill 1211, allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of Idaho’s wolf population. It also allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, run down wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles, and trap year-round on private land across the state.
Similarly Montana’s Senate Bill 314 could lead to the elimination of more than 85% of the state’s wolves. The law pushes the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to authorize hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves through baiting, trapping and night hunts using night-vision scopes and spotlighting.
In addition, Montana House Bill 224 allows trapping-license holders to snare multiple wolves during the state’s trapping season, while House Bill 225 expands the wolf-trapping seasons by four weeks. Costs that wolf hunters and trappers incur during this prolonged season can be reimbursed under Senate Bill 267’s bounty program.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot stand by while Idaho and Montana order the extermination of wolves to appease the livestock industry and trophy hunters,” said Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. “The agency must follow its obligation to reinstate federal protections, or risk wolves disappearing from the West again.”
Because of the recent Idaho and Montana legislation, the petition explains that returning wolves to federal management is both legally required and necessary for these wolves’ survival and recovery.
“As a keystone species, wolves play a critical role in maintaining the health of ecosystems and in reducing the spread of wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease,” said Bonnie Rice, senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “These extreme and unethical laws in Montana and Idaho aimed at killing 85-90% of the states’ wolf populations will not only reverse 50 years of wolf-recovery efforts but will unravel entire ecosystems. Endangered Species protections must be reinstated for Northern Rockies wolves now before it’s too late.”
“Time and time again the federal government’s pandering to special interest has resulted in the unwarranted deaths of thousands of gray wolves due to state mismanagement of this species,” said Keisha Sedlacek, director of regulatory affairs at the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It is time for the Biden administration to fulfill its commitment to using sound science to protect imperiled wildlife and act swiftly to reinstate federal protections for gray wolves, especially those in the Northern Rockies.”
In response to Idaho’s wolf legislation, the Center earlier this month called on the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Service to disqualify the state from receiving federal wildlife-management funding under the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Center also urged the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to show restraint in implementing the new wolf legislation or risk being disqualified for those federal funds.
In 2020 Idaho received more than $18 million in wildlife-management funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act; Montana received more than $24.4 million.
The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to respond to today’s petition within 90 days.
— CBB, May 13, 2021, 115 WOLF SCIENTISTS, EXPERTS URGE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION TO RESTORE ESA PROTECTIONS FOR WOLVES, SAY BEST SCIENCE NOT USED TO DE-LIST https://www.www.www.cbbulletin.com/115-wolf-scientists-experts-urge-biden-administration-to-restore-esa-protections-for-wolves-say-best-science-not-used-to-de-list/