Story at a glance

  • On Thursday, six environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the administration.
  • The groups argue the species is still threatened and the delisting is premature.
  • The gray wolf had been protected under the Endangered Species Act since the 1970s.

A coalition of environmental and wildlife advocacy groups are suing the Trump administration over its decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf. 

In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) lifted protections for the wolves in the continental U.S., except for a small population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The decision that ended more than 45 years of protections for the wolves was made after the agency said it determined the species was no longer endangered. 


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Protection for the species has now been left up to individual states, many of which would likely allow hunting of the animal. 

On Thursday, six environmental groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit challenging the delisting, arguing the delisting is premature as the species has yet to fully recover in the majority of its former range across the U.S. 

“We hope this lawsuit finally sets the wolf on a path to true recovery,” Colette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. 

“Restoring federal protection would allow further recovery in places like California, which is home now to just a single pack of wolves. Without federal protection the future of gray wolves rests in the hands of state governments, many of which, like Utah and South Dakota, are hostile to wolf recovery,” Adkins said. 

The gray wolf had been protected under the Endangered Species Act since the 1970s when the wolf population was around 1,000. The wolves were nearly wiped out across the continental U.S. during the 1900s primarily due to loss of habitat and hunting. 

Currently, more than 6,000 gray wolves roam the continental U.S., with more than 4,000 in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and some 2,000 in the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest. Before the push to eradicate the animals in the earlier 1900s, the wolves were present in most parts of the U.S. 


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Published on Jan 14, 2021