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Breaking: Independent Peer Review Concludes Wolf Delisting Proposal Does Not Represent the Best Available Science

Conservationists Call for Withdrawal

Additional contact:

John Horning,, 505.795.5083

Washington D.C. – A peer review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections from the gray wolf found the Service’s process to be deeply flawed. Written by five leading scientists, the report released today unanimously concludes: “the rule does not currently represent the ‘best available science.’” The Endangered Species Act requires that listing and delisting decisions be made only on the basis of the best available science. Moreover, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe have repeatedly asserted the Service will base decisions on the status of wolves on the best available science.

“We are calling on Secretary Jewell and Director Ashe to keep their promise to follow the best available science,” said Bethany Cotton, wildlife program director of WildEarth Guardians. “The independent peer review is clear: the Service did not do so. The only thing left is for the Service to rescind the fatally flawed proposed rule.”

Last May, sixteen leading wolf scientists wrote to the Service expressing grave concerns about the scientific integrity of the gray wolf delisting proposal.  The Service ignored those concerns, pressing full steam ahead, going so far as to interfere with the initial selection of independent peer reviewers by having any scientist who had expressed doubts about the delisting removed from the panel. Once the Service’s inappropriate meddling was revealed, the peer review process was re-started. The new peer review panel produced today’s report.
“The Service bent over backwards to push the gray wolf delisting proposal, interfering with the first peer review, reviving a long defunct journal to publish unsettled scientific conclusions, and ignoring over a million public comments opposing the delisting,” said John Horning, executive director of WildEarth Guardians. “Given the peer review conclusions, if the Service is to maintain any credibility, it must withdraw the delisting proposal.”

Beginning Monday, the Service will reopen the public comment period on the delisting proposal for an additional 45 days.


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