Interior Department Excludes Scientists from Independent Peer Review
On June 7, 2013, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced its controversial plan to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the contiguous United States. Federal ESA protections would remain only for the small population of Mexican gray wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) in the desert Southwest.
Although USFWS director Daniel M. Ashe declared victory for gray wolf recovery by stating “Wolves are recovered and they are now in good hands,” 16 scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology voiced their concern that the delsiting rule is terribly premature in a letter sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on May 21st. They argued that the delisting rule flouts “the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
Yesterday, a new wrinkle in the controversial debate emerged, the Interior Department removed three scientists from participating in the independent peer review of its delisting proposal and the move is drawing fire from environmentalists who charge that the scientists are among the country’s leading wolf experts and are being blocked from the review to stifle dissent.
Our friends from the California Wolf Center interviewed Dr. John Vucetich, one of the excluded experts, to get the story.