Today, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled to remand and vacate the gray wolf Endangered Species Act (ESA) delisting announced by the Trump administration in 2020. The ruling by Judge Jeffrey White, restores federal protections to the wolves in 44 states in the Continental U.S.
In his ruling, Judge White wrote, “The Service failed to adequately consider the threats to wolves outside of the core populations in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains in delisting the entire species and grants plaintiffs’ motion on this basis.”
The Biden Administration had actually defended the decision of the Trump Administration saying that the decision had been made with the best scientific data available. But just last week, the Interior Department did announce a status review of the wolf.
Gray wolves will remain unprotected in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho as that delisting decision had been determined by Congress.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the ruling saying, “AFBF is extremely disappointed in the ruling to return the gray wolf to the endangered species list. The gray wolf exceeded recovery goals and should be celebrated as an Endangered Species Act success story. The ESA is intended to promote species recovery and delisting, not to impose permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. Today’s ruling ignored ESA goals and threatens recovery efforts for other animals.”
“Farmers and ranchers share the goal of a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Management of the fully recovered gray wolf should be overseen by the states, which can best determine the most appropriate course of action for each region.”
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) also expressed opposition to the decision.
“It’s disappointing that environmental activism carried more weight than science in this case. Rather than ruling on due process and adherence to recovery criterion, Judge White chose to remand the rule and undermine one of the most successful ESA recovery stories in United States history,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This is just another attempt by activist groups to ignore the facts and rewrite the history of gray wolf recovery in the U.S.”
NCBA and PLC believe in making science-based decisions, and data shows the gray wolf population is recovered and no longer meets requirements for a listing. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf population has seen tremendous recovery, exceeding recovery goals by 300 percent.
“ESA should not be used as a permanent management tool. Today’s decision conflicts with the intended purpose of the Act and removes critical management tools for wolves that pose a tremendous threat to farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and vital land and natural resource conservation,” said Glover.