A Montana state court has just denied our request to limit wolf trophy hunting and trapping in the state until the merits of our still pending lawsuit can be heard. While we are extremely disappointed by this immediate outcome, we have a long battle ahead in our ongoing lawsuit.
Like you, I’m discouraged in this moment. I had hoped we could win a longer reprieve for wolves. But this outcome has only deepened my resolve to win this case—and win others we’re bringing for wolves in Montana and across the West.
As I told you previously, on October 27, WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote filed a lawsuit to stop the unscientific and senseless wolf slaughter in Montana. Already this winter, 70 wolves have been killed and 386 more could be killed—up to 40 percent of the state’s wolf population.
While a Montana judge didn’t grant our request for a preliminary injunction, we now must begin the lengthy process of preparing the entire case for trial. Despite this setback, we remain confident in a positive outcome for Montana’s wolves.
I need you to do three things right now to make sure we’re successful:
First, if you can, please donate to our Wolf Defense Fund to ensure we have the resources we need to defend wolves as our lawsuit makes its way through the court system.
Second, I know many of you have already done this, but we must keep the pressure on the Biden administration by demanding that they immediately issue emergency relisting protections under the Endangered Species Act for the gray wolf in Montana and across the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Finally, sign up for our E-news to get the latest updates and action alerts about our work to protect wolves.
I wanted you to hear this update directly from me. I know news like this is difficult to receive. All of us at WildEarth Guardians are disappointed today.
But know that we won’t stop until wolves are protected! They need all of us as Guardians more than ever, and we remain committed to the long-term health and recovery of gray wolves. We hope you’ll stand with us.
Right now in Montana it’s legal for one individual to kill 20 wolves a year through cruel hunting and trapping practices.
It’s legal for a trophy hunter to stand 10 feet outside of Yellowstone National Park, toss hamburgers on the ground as bait to lure wolves out of the park, and then shoot them.
Even worse, anyone can offer limitless bounties in exchange for dead wolves.
So on October 27, 2022 WildEarth Guardians and Project Coyote filed a lawsuit in Montana state court to end this bloodlust.
And on November 15, 2022 we secured a temporary restraining order that curbs some wolf hunting and trapping in Montana, including immediately closing wolf hunting in wolf management unit 313 north of Yellowstone National Park until the merits of our lawsuit can be heard on November 28.
Our lawsuit, comes as Montana is in the midst of the 2022-2023 wolf rifle-hunting season, with wolf trapping set to start on November 28. So far, at least 55 wolves have been killed. Montana’s hunting and trapping regulations allow for the killing of 456 wolves, including the use of strangulation neck snares and nighttime hunting on private lands with spotlights—all in the state’s quest to kill 40 percent of its wolves just this winter.
There are two ways you can support our new lawsuit right now.
First, write the Biden administration and demand that they immediately issue emergency relisting protections under the Endangered Species Act for the gray wolf in Montana and across the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Second, if you can, please donate to our Wolf Defense Fund to ensure we have the resources we need to defend wolves.
Together—with your help—we will defend wolves and end this senseless slaughter in Montana.
If you are reading this, that means you’re curious to learn about Administrative Procedure Act petitions. To understand what an Administrative Procedure Act (APA) petition is and why we use this tool at WildEarth Guardians, it is necessary to first understand the big picture: what is a federal agency rule or regulation (I will use these terms interchangeably). Once we have a grasp on that, we can better understand what an APA petition is and why Guardians is using them as a tool to further our mission to protect the environment.
It all starts with Congress, the branch of government responsible for making laws. Laws are broad, primarily because Congress doesn’t have the time or expertise to include all the details. This is where agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Fish and Wildlife Service step in. Federal agencies take these broad laws and fill in the details through processes including “rulemaking.” An agency rulemaking results in a rule that effectively operates as a law, the same as if Congress had passed it.
So where does the APA come in? The Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551-559, directs the manner in which certain agencies make decisions, among other things, including through the general rulemaking process described above. An agency may decide to undergo a rulemaking for several reasons, including as a result of a rulemaking “petition.” Petitions under the APA are not the same as other types of petitions that we often use to gather signatures to show how many people care about a particular issue. In an APA petition, we make the case for why a regulation is needed, and what that regulation should be.
To submit an APA petition, one must be an “interested person” in the subject matter of the petition. The APA allows an “interested person” to “petition for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule. For example, we at WildEarth Guardians are ‘interested persons’ petitioning the U.S. Forest Service for carnivore coexistence on federal livestock grazing allotments simply because we value native carnivores and work to protect them on National Forest System lands open to livestock grazing. You can support this effort by telling the U.S. Forest Service that it’s time to adopt a mandate of native carnivore coexistence with respect to public lands grazing.
Because the APA petition process allows any interested person to petition for the issuance of a rule by an agency, this means that the public, or groups like Guardians representing our members, can be a bottom-up source for proposed regulations. This is one way to drive agency change. The agency, however has several options for how to respond, or not, to a petition. An agency can deny the petition, do nothing, or an agency can engage in the rulemaking. Denial and doing nothing (also called “failure to act” or “unreasonable delay”) can provide fodder for a potential lawsuit. One might challenge the grounds provided for the denial, or sue for unreasonable delay, which may be illegal because agencies are legally required to promptly consider rulemaking petitions. 7 C.F.R. § 1.28.
Overall, APA petitions are one more tool we can use to protect public lands or threatened wildlife by engaging federal agencies, and pushing them to do better for the environment.
WildEarth Guardians is leaving no stone unturned in our defense of wolves across the American West.
Case in point: We were before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland today to advance our fight to protect wolves on national forest lands in the Pacific Northwest.
After they were eradicated nearly a century ago, wolves have slowly regained ground in eastern Washington and Oregon where, unfortunately, they’re no longer protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
In the wolf’s long absence, federal public lands in this region have largely been devoted to domestic livestock grazing—subsidized by taxpayers. But national forests still offer some of our nation’s best remaining habitat for wolves and other native carnivores that need large, remote territories.
To thrive, wolves just need us humans—and our domestic livestock—to give them space.
That’s why this case I argued today centers on holding the U.S. Forest Service accountable for failing to responsibly manage cattle grazing on about 745,000 acres of the Colville National Forest in northeastern Washington. Click here to see how I thought today’s hearing went.
Incredibly, in spite of authorizing 10,000+ head of domestic cows and vulnerable young calves to graze unattended across roughly 70 percent of the Colville National Forest, the agency steadfastly refuses to require scientifically backed coexistence practices that can proactively avoid and reduce conflicts between wolves and livestock.
The results of this negligence? Nearly 40 wolves, including the entire Profanity Peak Pack and the entire Old Profanity Territory Pack, have been slaughtered in recent years on the Colville National Forest at the behest of livestock corporations.
Thanks to Guardians and our allies, the era of the Forest Service and livestock corporations blatantly ignoring proven coexistence practices will be coming to an end—but we need your help.
While you couldn’t stand with me today in the courtroom, you can stand with me right now to demand that the Forest Service adopt a mandate of native carnivore coexistence with respect to public lands grazing.
Together, we will usher in an ethic of coexistence across the National Forest System that gives wolves—and other native carnivores like grizzly bears, coyotes, and bobcats—room to roam.
Gray wolves in Montana are—once again—in the crosshairs of the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission. Hunters, trappers, and the unabashedly anti-wolf governor and legislature in Montana are gearing up for another wolf hunting and trapping season with the goal of drastically reducing the state’s still-recovering wolf population.
Under the current and proposed season regulations for 2022-23, a single person can kill up to 20 wolves and use bait, night vision scopes, artificial lights, and thermal imaging—truly dispelling any notion of ethical or “fair chase” hunting.
The heinously liberalized gray wolf hunting and trapping allowances not only endanger the gray wolf population, but also federally threatened species including grizzly bears and Canada lynx, as well as family pets and Montanans and visitors who enjoy recreating outdoors. Simply put, the Commission will put both wildlife and the public at risk if it continues this approach.
On August 25, the Commission will decide on the 2022-23 wolf hunting and trapping regulations. Notably, if adopted as proposed, 460 wolves—close to half of the state’s population—must be slaughtered before the Commission will even consider stopping the hunt. The unsatiable bloodlust of the anti-wolf minority in the northern Rockies states, including Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, continues to amplify the need for the federal government to take action—now—to protect these wolves. Until it does, Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming will continue the unabated slaughter until there are no wolves left.
Make your opposition to liberalized wolf hunting and trapping in Montana known by providing written comments by 5 pm on July 21 under the “trapping and wolf seasons” tab for the Commission to consider on August 25.
Here are some important talking points, but be sure to personalize your comment for maximum effectiveness:
- Gray wolf management should be cautious and science-based, not political.
- The quota for wolf kills in the proposed WMU 313, if adopted, should be zero or the minimum number of wolves—not 10.
- The model used to estimate the statewide wolf population is full of compounding errors, meaning the actual size of the state’s wolf population is unknown.
- Increased wolf trapping imperils federally threatened grizzly bears and Canada lynx, as well as family pets and outdoor recreationists.
- Snares are cruel and inherently indiscriminate.
After you submit your own comments, please share this action alert with your friends and neighbors in Montana and encourage them to raise their voice in defense of the gray wolf.
P.S. If you don’t have time to write your own original comments, please sign our petition to defend wolves in Montana.
We’re in a bit of a mood today…
First, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of a new coalition in Nevada that will end gruesome wildlife-killing contests and cruel trapping on public lands. Silver State Wildlife will harness the power of regional and Nevada-based groups and activists to drag wildlife policies into the 21st century with a healthy dose of science, ethics, and common sense.
The Silver State is a nexus between amazing wildlife, biodiversity, and public lands—and archaic wildlife policy that prioritizes killing over conservation. Nevada’s 96-hour trap check window is by far the longest and cruelest in the American West. This coalition will change that and more.
But did I mention we’re in a mood?
The Nevada Department of Wildlife just fined a family of hikers who freed the suffering fox pictured above from a leghold trap. Nevada trappers pressured the department into threatening to arrest the Good Samaritans and fining them over $700!
When people are punished for helping the vulnerable and unprotected, that is wrong. The laws need to change. Coexistence and compassion need to lead. And the exploitation of wildlife needs to be left in the dustbin of history.
Here’s what you can do:
• Sign the petition to end public lands trapping in Nevada.
• Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, calling out the Nevada Department of Wildlife for penalizing an act of compassion at the behest of trappers. Please keep your letter under 250 words and submit it to the following papers:
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Sun (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reno Gazette Journal (email@example.com)
Reno News & Review
Nevada Appeal (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Nevada Independent (email@example.com)
The Ely Times
Pahrump Valley Times
The Record-Courier (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Humboldt Sun (email@example.com)
Sierra Nevada Ally (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for doing your part to end the war on wildlife in Nevada. And stay tuned for more ways to get involved.
Speak up for Wolves: Sign the Petition!
The Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is one of the most endangered carnivores in the world. After lobos were nearly wiped out, reintroduction began in 1998 in remote areas of New Mexico and Arizona. Since then, recovery has been slow and turbulent. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decided that the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves in the U.S. was not essential to the recovery of Mexican gray wolves as a species. Guardians and our allies sued, and in 2018, a U.S. district judge told USFWS to go back to the drawing board to write a new management rule for the lobo. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently seeking comments on that new Mexican wolf management rule. This is our last chance to make sure the agency gets recovery right, so please submit your comment!
Tweet for Lobos!
We’ve assembled eight ready-to-go tweets, complete with inspiring images and a link to the petition. All you have to do is “grab-n-go” to help raise awareness and make a big difference in the defense of the lobos! P.S. These work great on Facebook, too!
#Wolves keep the Gila wild! Celebrate the 97th anniversary of the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico by urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Gila’s most iconic resident—the critically endangered Mexican #wolf: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos #KeepItWild #StopExtinction
Lobos are essential! Mexican gray #wolves are critical ecosystem influencers in the desert Southwest. They keep prey populations healthy and in balance, protect riparian and aquatic resources, and indicate the health of entire ecosystems. Take action: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Humans are the largest obstacle to recovering Mexican #wolves. Along with illegal trapping, poaching and vehicular mortalities, politically motivated ‘recovery’ plans have put lobos in a precarious position. Take action to help get #wolf recovery right: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Real recovery for Mexican #wolves would include three distinct, but connected populations. Along with lobos‘ current range in the Greater Gila Bioregion, the Grand Canyon area and the Southern Rockies are identified as prime habitat. Help make it happen: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Mexican #wolves in the wild are, on average, as related as brothers and sisters. Though lobos numbers are slowly increasing, the greatest indicator of a successful #wolf recovery effort is the genetic health of the wild population. Support real recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
To truly recover Mexican gray #wolves a new management rule should be based on the best available science and prioritize enhancing the genetic diversity of the wild lobo population. Raise your voice to make sure Mexican #wolf recovery is done right: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Did you know that the Mexican gray wolf, or lobo, is the most endangered gray #wolf in North America and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world? Tell the @USFWS we need a new management rule that will actually recover Mexican #wolves: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Almost a century after Aldo Leopold shot a Mexican #wolf in the Gila, only 186 of these wolves exist in the wild. The fierce green fire he saw in the wolf’s eyes still flickers in the #wolves who roam the Greater Gila today. Help support full recovery: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
Amplify YOUR Voice for Wolves: Write a Letter to the Editor
Letters to the editor (LTE) are a great way to share your perspective and encourage others to speak up for lobos. It’s easy, fast, and effective—all you have to do is write your short perspective on why wolves deserve more protections and why the southwest needs more wolves. Be sure to mention that U.S. Fish and Wildlife is taking public comments on wolf management right now and comments can be submitted here: https://guardiansaction.org/lobos
You can submit your letter to your local outlet, or if you are not from the region, submit it to a statewide outlet. Here are direct links to submission forms, note that different papers have different word count limits.
- Albuquerque Journal
- Santa Fe New Mexican
- Las Cruces Sun-News
- Silver City Daily Press
- Silver City Sun-News
- El Defensor-Chieftain (Socorro, NM)
- Sierra County Sentinel (Sierra County, NM)
- Arizona Daily Star
- Arizona Republic (Tucson area)
- East Valley Tribune (Phoenix area)
- Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff area)
- White Mountain Independent (White Mountain area – closest to wolf country)
- Pinal Central (Casa Grande area)
- Daily Courier (Prescott area)
LTE Talking Points: Here are key elements of a new lobo management rule that will help truly recover and restore Mexican wolves to their historic range. Please use these talking points as a guideline for drafting your individual LTE, but what’s most important is that your voice and your reason for wanting lobo recovery come through. So, please speak in your own words, but make sure to emphasis the fact that a new Mexican wolf management rule must:
Rescue Mexican wolves from a genetic bottleneck
- A real genetic rescue entails releasing adult wolf pairs with pups until the wild population of lobos demonstrates adequate genetic diversity improvements. Releasing a set, limited number of wolves into the wild is not a real genetic objective—very few wolves who reach breeding age actually contribute their genes to the wild population.
Allow lobos to roam throughout their historic range
- Preventing wolves from crossing arbitrary political boundaries like Interstate 40 is unacceptable. In order to truly recover, Mexican wolves need access to suitable habitat in the southern Rockies and the Grand Canyon region.
Designate lobos as “essential”
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the only wild population of Mexican wolves in the U.S. as “non-essential” to the recovery of the species in the wild. Designating this population as “essential” is common sense and crucial to recovery.
Reduce wolf-livestock conflict
- Wolves are native carnivores highly adapted to the desert southwest. They should not bear the burden of livestock-wildlife conflict when non-native cows are grazing on public lands without protection.
On the December 21 winter solstice —the darkest day of the year—Montana wildlife officials opened additional areas to wolf trapping across the state, including in wilderness areas and public lands bordering Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.
This decision is sickening, and yet it doesn’t even begin to describe the whole horrific situation that imperiled wolves and grizzly bears have faced all year in Montana. And the stakes are only getting more dangerous as a long, cold winter descends.
This year’s start of the wolf trapping season was delayed in parts of western Montana to give grizzly bears more time to safely reach their dens. Despite this, threatened species like grizzlies were not spared from the brutality of indiscriminate trapping.
Earlier this fall, a family of grizzly bears living near Glacier National Park stumbled upon two traps—baited with a dead fox—that a trapper set to kill coyotes. The traps snapped shut, gripping tightly around the feet of two bears. Wildlife managers were able to dart and release one bear, but it’s believed the other trap may remain on the second grizzly bear’s foot. Trapping is a disgusting practice—using a dead fox to bait a trap just makes it more atrocious.
Grizzly bears and wolves need our help, otherwise more and more will suffer this same fate.
By New Year’s Eve, wolf trapping will be opened statewide to satisfy the bloodlust of Montana’s Republican governor and state legislators, who are intent on brutally slaughtering up to 450 wolves—40 percent of the state’s wolf population—in just six months. Forty percent!
Thankfully, most grizzly bears should be denned up by then. Grizzly Bear 399—the world’s most famous mama bear, pictured above—recently made it safely into her Greater Yellowstone den with her four cubs. Sadly, a den is no refuge for some of Yellowstone’s most famous wolf packs. Fifteen Yellowstone wolves have already been slaughtered this year, including seven from the Junction Butte pack, the most-watched wolf pack in the park.
Winter is a time for nesting, denning, and reflecting. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, but it also marks a return of the light.
At WildEarth Guardians, we want to end the year focusing on gratitude and all the successes we accomplished together for wildlife and wild places. But we can’t shy away from telling the dark stories that continue to happen. We are standing up against these injustices and for the beauty and wildness that still remain.
Above all, nature is cyclical and we know that our fight to protect the natural world will contain both moments of despair and darkness and moments of exhilaration and exuberance. Just as the winter descends, spring will also rise.
In a few months, Grizzly Bear 399 and her four cubs will emerge from their den. Let’s do everything in our power to ensure that the world they walk out into is one that values coexistence and reveres the cycle of life.
When you think of America’s congressionally designated wilderness areas, what comes to mind?
Intact ecosystems teeming with native wildlife and wild places, where people can find solace and solitude in an increasingly fast-paced world? Or aerial gunning, poisoning, and trapping of native wildlife?
The answer should be clear. But unfortunately, the federal wildlife-killing program known as Wildlife Services uses our tax dollars to deploy neck snares, foothold traps, “cyanide bombs,” and sharpshooters in helicopters to kill hundreds of thousands of native animals on public lands—even in protected wilderness areas.
We have waged a relentless battle to end this war on wildlife. Over the last five years, litigation against the USDA Wildlife Services by WildEarth Guardians and our allies has resulted in legal victories in Idaho, Wyoming, California, Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Washington—each of them curbing the program’s slaughter of native wildlife and increasing its accountability to the public.
But we aren’t resting until we end this rogue program’s war on wildlife once and for all.
Earlier this month, Guardians and Western Watersheds Project launched a lawsuit challenging Wildlife Services’ expansion of aerial gunning, poisoning, trapping, and shooting of bobcats, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, beavers, and other wildlife on public lands across Nevada, including the potential for killing wildlife on over six million acres of wilderness and wilderness study areas.
With your help and your support, we will have the financial resources we need in 2022 and beyond to defend vulnerable wildlife and ensure that public lands are a refuge for native animals. Can I count on your donation today? As an added bonus, your donation will be matched by another generous supporter.
While society has evolved to understand the importance of native species as a key part of ecosystems and the need for coexistence with wildlife, Wildlife Services continues to rely on antiquated practices from a bygone era when many animals were pushed to the brink of extinction. We demand better from the federal government.
Public lands across the American West are critical for preserving biodiversity and enabling native ecosystems to thrive—they are meant to be wildlife havens, not slaughtering grounds. We must not let the federal government use our tax dollars to slaughter the very creatures that epitomize the wildness of these landscapes.
With your help, we will achieve even more in 2022 to stop Wildlife Services in its tracks! Help fuel our continued fight for coexistence in the new year by making a MATCHED gift of $50, $100, $250 or more to Guardians today.
In February, while investigating a mortality signal from a wolf collar, Oregon state troopers found the dead bodies of the entire Catherine Wolf Pack, three males and two females. A whole family brutally murdered, likely at the hands of one or a few people.
Tragically, this was just the start of a series of disturbing and still unsolved deaths. In the past five months, police have recovered the bodies of eight wolves in eastern Oregon, all poisoned.
Now the police, having exhausted all leads, are turning to us for help to find the perpetrators of this crime. WildEarth Guardians and our partners are offering a $43,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of a person or persons in the deliberate fatal poisoning of these wolves.
Offering this reward is one critical way we can bring justice for wolves. We are also fighting in court and pressuring the Biden administration. Please donate today to our Wolf Defense Fund so that we can secure the future of the gray wolf.
With your help, we’ve spent the past year working to protect wolves and endangered wildlife across the country. We’ve seen progress, to be sure—in October Guardians successfully forced Montana to restrict wolf snaring on millions of acres of public lands—but there is still so much work to be done. Any day now, a decision could come down in our national litigation challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s reckless decision to strip gray wolves of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection across the lower 48.
We’re also planning for the future and turning our attention to Colorado, where, thanks to a people-powered ballot initiative, the state must reintroduce gray wolves by the end of 2023. Colorado has only the next two years to develop a reintroduction and management plan for wolves, and that means Guardians has a job to do. We must ensure this plan includes the highest protections for wolves, so that entire wolf families aren’t killed in the face of the slightest opposition.
Anyone with information about the eastern Oregon wolf poisonings should contact the Oregon State Police Tip Line at (800) 452-7888 or email TIP@state.or.us. Callers may remain anonymous.
For people outside of Oregon or without information to share, you can help us spread the word about this heinous crime. The more people who are aware of this, the more likely it is that Oregon police receive critical information to catch the perpetrator before more wolves are lost.
We are sickened, outraged, and heartbroken by this crime. And we are committed to this fight for the long run.