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California, Oregon, Colorado Community Hearings Focus on Trump Proposal to End Wolf Protection
Despite requests from the public and even members of Congress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has refused to schedule any public hearings of its own or extend the comment period on the proposal.
“If Trump’s plan goes through, it’ll be the most damaging decision ever made in the long history of wolf recovery in this country,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s appalling that the Trump administration couldn’t be bothered to hold any public hearings on this. So we’ll hold our own.”
“This is yet another example of the Trump administration’s careless disregard for natural resources and wildlife,” said Taylor Jones, an endangered species advocate at WildEarth Guardians. “We’re going to give people a chance to speak for the wild.”
“Prematurely stripping the protections of the Endangered Species Act from gray wolves would halt their hard-won progress back from the brink of extinction and expose them to the unrestricted hunting and suppression that brought them to that point,” said Mary Beth Beetham, director of legislative affairs for Defenders of Wildlife. “The restoration of the gray wolf to the wild in the lower 48 states is one of the great conservation stories of our lifetime. This is not the time to turn our backs on this iconic species.”
“The last time we faced wolf delisting, there was an overwhelming outpouring of opposition. So nobody is surprised that Interior Secretary Bernhardt doesn’t want to hear more from the public,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “He is too busy serving his former industry clients. But America’s natural heritage belongs to its citizens, not this former oil and gas lobbyist. And we’re going to make sure that citizens have an opportunity to speak.”
Verbal and written comments at each hearing will be submitted to the Fish and Wildlife Service during the official public comment period, which closes May 14.
The community hearings already scheduled are:
Denver: Monday, April 29, 6:30 p.m.
Sacramento: Thursday, May 2 at 5 p.m.
Portland: Monday, May 6, 5:30 p.m.
In 2013 the Service held six public hearings around the country on gray wolf delisting. That 2013 proposal to end federal protection for wolves was abandoned after serious scientific concerns arose during the public comment process.
On March 6 the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to strip gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protection across the lower 48 states. If finalized, the proposal will allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in some areas and stall recovery of wolves in the United States.
The proposal would remove federal protection from all gray wolves, with the exception of Mexican gray wolves, which are listed separately under the Endangered Species Act.
The proposal will also all but ensure wolves are not allowed to recover in the Adirondacks, southern Rockies, and elsewhere in the United States where scientists have identified suitable habitat.