Wolf, © Didier J. Lindsey

Congress’ Latest Ploy to Remove Protections for Gray Wolves: You’d think the bill Congress drafted to fund the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 2016 would do just that. Unfortunately, in addition to laying out the 2016 budget for DOI, this bill also contains over 20 anti-environmental riders aimed at weakening the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. One of the most egregious riders to this funding bill would require DOI to delist gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states. This type of back-door policy follows a familiar pattern. In 2011, an amendment to remove federal protections for wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Washington and Oregon was attached to a key appropriations bill, and it led to wolves’ delisting in those states.

While the 2011 wolf delisting was the first time Congress succeeded in legislatively delisting a species from the Endangered Species Act, today, proposing to remove ESA protections for particular species seems to be a favorite pastime for anti-wildlife members of Congress. This is the fourth proposal introduced since January to remove federal protections for wolves in select states. We oppose all congressional attempts to interfere with the species listing process. You can help us by also telling Congress decisions about wolf recovery are based upon biological and scientific considerations alone, and not politics.

Arizona Fish and Game Department’s latest Attempt to Undermine Wolf Recovery: This week Arizona Game and Fish Department filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife requesting the agency update its recovery plan for endangered Mexican gray wolves. Defenders filed suit seeking a recovery plan last fall, so you might think this is good news… not so fast! While both Defenders and the state of Arizona want the same thing, a recovery plan, we differ on what that recovery looks like with regard to numbers and distribution of wolves. Our position is based on the peer-reviewed science of the previously convened Mexican gray wolf recovery science team, while Arizona is dismissing this science and saying that environmental groups are “requesting a resolution in an unreasonable timeframe.” It has now been 39 years since Mexican gray wolves were listed under the ESA, and they are still waiting for a recovery plan – now that’s an unreasonable timeframe!

The truth is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has all the information they need to develop a recovery plan in a matter of months. Arizona’s lawsuit is all about getting a seat at the table to take pot shots at peer-reviewed science, slow down recovery, and limit the number of wolves in Arizona. For these wolves to recover in the wild, it is critical that the Fish and Wildlife Service complete and implement the science-based recovery plan, and not kowtow to states looking for ways to give fewer protections to Mexican gray wolves.