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Coloradans, Wildlife Experts Join Hearing to Voice Opposition to Gray Wolf Delisting
Denver, CO– Yesterday, a coalition of organizations joined a hearing to oppose the Trump administration’s decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list across the lower 48 states. Members of the public, wildlife experts, and conservation advocates, as well as a representative from Congressman Joe Neguse’s office, stressed the need for continued federal safeguards to ensure the gray wolf population reaches full recovery before losing its endangered status.
Notable expert panelists offered testimony, including Carter Niemeyer, author and former wolf recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho; Karin Vardaman, predator-livestock conflict reduction expert; Colby Brokvist, long-time expedition leader in locations including Yellowstone National Park; and Diana Tomback, Ph.D, conservation biologist and ecologist at the University of Colorado Denver.
In response to the delisting proposal, representatives from conservation organizations released the following statements:
“We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will seriously consider the role of the gray wolves in our nation and our world’s ecosystems, and move to not delist,” said Congressman Joseph Neguse (CO-2) in a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service read by proxy at the community hearing.
“Removing national safeguards for gray wolves is premature and dangerous. We must ensure they have the strongest protections so that they can fully recover,” said Delia Malone, Wildlife Committee Chair at the Sierra Club’s Colorado Chapter. “Colorado needs a healthy wolf population to restore balance to our natural systems to continue driving our prosperous outdoors economy. Healthy wildlife and thriving natural systems benefit everyone, and we need to prioritize their protection.”
“It’s obvious that the community sees the important role gray wolves play in making our natural landscapes beautiful and resilient,” said Hailey Hawkins, Southern Rockies Field Representative for the Endangered Species Coalition. “The Trump Administration is doing the American people an injustice by pulling the rug out from under gray wolves. We’re so grateful to the individuals that came out last night, in a snowstorm, to speak in opposition to delisting the gray wolf.”
“The testimony at the Denver hearing provided a powerful rebuke to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision,” said Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “The agency didn’t provide a public forum, but we’re going to make sure people get their voices heard no matter what.”
“Highly passionate participants indicated together that the delisting proposal for gray wolves is premature because their populations are still under threat, state agencies are not managing wolves to recover populations according to the Endangered Species Act, and there is a great desire to see wolves in more states, including Colorado,” said Dr. Diana Tomback, a member of the Colorado Sierra Club Gray Wolf Recovery Team and the Science Advisory Team of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project.
“While I would very much like to see wolves delisted because they have fully recovered, now is not the time. We still require the Endangered Species Act to provide oversight until individual states can each demonstrate that they can manage wolf packs and populations to robust numbers without federal oversight,” said writer Colby Brokvist, who has been leading nature expeditions for 15 years in a variety of locations, including Yellowstone National Park.
“If you care about wolves, get involved,” said Carter Niemeyer, former wolf recovery coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Idaho, in a call-to-action.
In March 2019, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) announced a 60-day public comment period associated with their proposal to strip federal Endangered Species Act protections for northern gray wolves across the lower 48 states. The restoration of wolves has been hailed as one of the biggest successes of the Endangered Species Act. But the important work of wolf recovery is unfinished. Delisting the gray wolf will halt four decades of progress and could expose America’s wolves to unwarranted and unsustainable killing.
The public has until May 14th, when the 60-day public comment period ends, to submit comments to the Federal Register opposing delisting of the gray wolf.