Sticking Up for Wolves in the Northern Rockies
Guardians Defends Judge Molloy's Wolf Ruling
Washington, DC - March 18. WildEarth Guardians supports Federal Judge Donald Molloy’s August 2010 decision that put wolves in the Northern Rockies back on the endangered species list and also set important legal precedent. But today, the Interior Department and 10 environmental groups announced a settlement that agrees to wolf delisting and specifically seeks to stay Judge Molloy’s decision. Guardians applauds Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Watersheds Project, and Friends of the Clearwater for continuing to support Molloy’s ruling and not going along with the delisting plan.
“The biological situation for wolves in the Northern Rockies is just as perilous now as when these groups challenged the delisting in June 2009,” stated John Horning of WildEarth Guardians. “Amazingly, the settlement asks for the judge to approve delisting on terms that violate his ruling.”
The very first term of the agreement would be to delist wolves in Idaho and Montana, which is precisely what the groups challenged in 2009. It also provides for subsequent delisting in Wyoming. The settlement relies on the initiative of the Interior Department to secure a future for Northern Rockies wolves outside of the Endangered Species Act. Guardians believes that wolf numbers will drastically plummet after delisting and doubts that, once delisted, wolves in the region would obtain relisting.
The settlement is no doubt motivated by fears regarding wolf delisting bills that have been introduced in the House and Senate, which would greatly undercut wolf protection and would be precedent-setting by legislatively delisting a species. Despite these grave threats, the Endangered Species Act requires delisting decisions to be based on biological, not political concerns. That is the standard to which Guardians holds the government and itself. Guardians will not gamble the lives of Northern Rockies wolves on the chance of preventing Congressional delisting. To our knowledge, no federal legislator who has offered a delisting bill has agreed to withdraw it even if this settlement is approved.
Guardians is also concerned that the wolves are being sacrificed due to antagonism from just a tiny portion of the American public – those ranchers and hunters hostile to wolves, and the politicians that are working at their behest. In contrast, wolves are wildly popular with the American public and one of the principal draws to Yellowstone National Park.
“It doesn’t matter from the wolf’s perspective whether they’re killed because of actions by Congress or this settlement. These animals need more protections, not less,” stated Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Biologists have issued peer-reviewed articles documenting that wolves have not yet recovered in the Northern Rockies, and that killing them has profound negative influences on their social stability, ability to carry out their ecological function, and their ability to persist.”
Guardians considered filing litigation to challenge the delisting rule in 2009, but chose not to given the large number of conservation groups already taking the issue up. The group now regrets that decision and appreciates that Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Watersheds Project, and Friends of the Clearwater are holding the line for wolves in Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.
“The American public loves and values wolves and wants them conserved because they are a national treasure. We at WildEarth Guardians strive for wolves’ full protection under federal law. If their management is given over to the States, we will see them exterminated a second time in history. This would be unethical and a biological disaster,” said Horning.