Trump administration considering dropping gray wolf from endangered list
© Getty

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that it is considering dropping the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

Gavin Shire, a spokesman for the service, said in a statement obtained by The Hill that the agency has begun begun reviewing the status of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 


"Working closely with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, we will assess the currently listed gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states using the best available scientific information," Shire said. "If appropriate, the Service will publish a proposal to revise the wolf’s status in the Federal Register by the end of the calendar year. Any proposal will follow a robust, transparent and open public process that will provide opportunity for public comment."

Under the terms of the current legal protections for gray wolves, the animals cannot be killed unless they become a threat to human life. 

The news follows the agency’s first attempt to drop legal protections on the species in the western Great Lakes region in 2013, which failed after federal courts rejected the measure.

"With the gray wolf’s recovery goals exceeded, the Service proposed delisting the species throughout the remainder of its range in 2013 under the previous administration," Shire said.

"Unfortunately, the delisting of wolves in the Western Great Lakes region was successfully overturned by the courts," the spokesman continued, "which prevented the Service from moving forward with the full delisting proposal at that time."

A federal appeals court in August also ruled against the Interior Department’s 2011 decision to delist the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act.

Groups opposed to delisting grey wolves from the protections criticized the decision.

“It’s deeply troubling to see the Trump administration trying to prematurely kick wolves off the endangered species list,” Collette Adkins, a Minneapolis-based biologist and attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.


“Time and again the courts have told the Service that wolves need further recovery before their protections can be removed," Adkins said of the announcement. "But the agency is dead-set on appeasing special interests who want to kill these amazing animals.”

UPDATE and CORRECTION: This story was updated at 9:54 a.m. Friday to reflect the full U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statement. An earlier version of the story mischaracterized the statement, suggesting a decision had already been made on delisting.