lobo_pup_essential_logo_smA battle over how to save endangered wolves in the Southwest moves to a federal appeals court today as judges hear arguments on whether states can block the federal government from reintroducing critically endangered Mexican gray wolves within their borders.

The Interior Department is asking the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a preliminary injunction that bars the department from releasing more captive-bred Mexican wolves into the wild in New Mexico without that state’s approval. Eighteen other states filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with New Mexico.

More…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a responsibility under federal law to facilitate recovery of the critically endangered wolf and releases are a central part of that effort. If the court gives the states veto power over measures to save federally protected wolves, Mexican wolf recovery would not be the only effort to suffer the consequences. The court’s decision would establish a dangerous precedent – effectively allowing a state to refuse recovery efforts for endangered species if they don’t feel like complying.

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Senators from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Wyoming today introduced the “War on Wolves Act,” their version of a bill that would once again allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in those states. The bill, along with its companion bill in the U.S. House, increases the likelihood of wolves being delisted in these 4 states. More…

URGENT – Please urge your representatives to OPPOSE these congressional attempts to delist wolves and further weaken the Endangered Species Act!

Take action HERE.

Background

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) stripped federal protections for Wyoming’s wolves and handed management over to the state, a controversial decision, and contradiction of the agency’s stance in the past. Although USFWS had previously criticized Wyoming’s state wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, the agency took a significantly altered position, announcing that these wolves no longer warrant protection under the ESA. The following day, management was handed over to the state and Wyoming’s inaugural wolf hunt commenced.

Wyoming’s wolf management plan calls for the state to:

Deem wolves predators in 90% of the state (all but the northwest corner of Wyoming), where they could be killed by any means, at any time, without a license.
In Wyoming’s northwest corner, right outside Yellowstone National Park, classify wolves as trophy game animals meaning they could only be hunted with a license.
Maintain only 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Par
In September of 2014, federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated after a federal judge invalidated the USFWS’s delisting decision. In December of 2014, federal protections were also reinstated for wolves in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin after another federal judge invalidated USFWS’s 2012 decision to delist wolves in that region. In both cases, the federal courts held that the state management plans for wolves at issue did not sufficiently protect wolves. The court decisions restored federal protection for wolves in all four of the states.

If passed, these bills will nullify both of these federal court decisions and allow trophy hunting of wolves to resume under state management.

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