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States Argue in Court For Veto Power Over Federal Efforts to Recover Endangered Lobos


A 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.


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.