Press Releases

Bipartisan Delegation Seeks Emergency ESA Gray Wolf Listing Protections

December 15, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today led a bipartisan group of 78 Representatives urging the Department of the Interior to “immediately issue an emergency listing to temporarily restore federal protections through the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the gray wolf.”

They wrote:

“While we appreciate the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to conduct a 12-month status review to revisit the listing of the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies, we are extremely concerned that wolves around the country will continue to be needlessly killed in the interim, further jeopardizing the species. We have already seen evidence of mass killings in several states after the gray wolf was delisted, and more, larger hunts are planned as of now.  Such actions warrant an emergency listing to protect the species from dangerous reductions in population size that could lead to extinction.”

Text of the letter follows below and a signed copy is available here.

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Dear Secretary Haaland:

We write to ask that you immediately issue an emergency listing to temporarily restore federal protections through the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to the gray wolf.

The gray wolf is a keystone species whose native range spans much of North America. Once extirpated from the lower 48 states, when the gray wolf was reintroduced to the Yellowstone area it caused a trophic cascade of regeneration throughout that ecosystem, demonstrating the fundamental importance of the species for critical ecosystem services that support human health and the economy.  As we tackle the existential threat of climate change, the gray wolf can help to mitigate climate effects on the ground, and to improve the climate resilience of communities in its range.  At the same time, gray wolves undoubtedly face new challenges as a result of climate change, further straining the specie’s ability to survive.

While we appreciate the Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to conduct a 12-month status review to revisit the listing of the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies, we are extremely concerned that wolves around the country will continue to be needlessly killed in the interim, further jeopardizing the species. We have already seen evidence of mass killings in several states after the gray wolf was delisted, and more, larger hunts are planned as of now.  Such actions warrant an emergency listing to protect the species from dangerous reductions in population size that could lead to extinction. Additionally, the FWS delisting rule for the gray wolf in the Northern Rockies states that meaningful changes in state law or management objectives that increase the threat to the wolf population can lead to not only the reconsideration of listing but an emergency relisting at any point.

An emergency listing for gray wolves is also necessary given FWS’s own response to petitions that there is substantial credible information that human-caused slaughter poses a threat to the species. FWS found that regulations in at least two states may be inadequate to address human threats posed to gray wolves.  Further, more than 800 scientists have called on the Biden Administration to take immediate action crediting laws in various states that threaten gray wolves and ignore science. They state the laws in several states go against scientific literature on wolf biology management and could threaten recovery efforts.  Additionally, tribal leaders and representatives have also voiced their concerns regarding the danger facing gray wolves as they are sacred to many American Indian Tribes. They write that the decision to delist gray wolves without their consultation has eroded tribal sovereignty, and not only do they request an emergency relisting for gray wolves, but to also be included in decisions that affect their cultures and traditions.

Any emergency listing is temporary, lasting only 240 days. During that time, FWS will be able to continue its own evaluation and review that is already underway. We believe the facts on the ground support such a request and ask that you implement an emergency relisting of gray wolves. 

We appreciate the work of the Administration thus far and look forward to the consideration of our request. We request a response back by Wednesday, December 22nd.

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