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One Million Americans Speak Out Against Stripping Federal Protections From Wolves

December 17, 2013
Bethany Cotton 503.327.4923
In This Release

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
One Million Americans Speak Out Against Stripping Federal Protections From Wolves

Most Public Comments Ever on an Endangered Act Decision
Contact: Bethany Cotton 503.327.4923

Additional Contacts:

Kierán Suckling, Centerfor Biological Diversity, (520) 275-5960
Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467
Melanie Gade, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0288
RobKlavins, Oregon Wild, (503)283-6343

Washington, DC—Approximately one million Americans stated their opposition to the Obamaadministration’s proposal to strip endangered species protections from graywolves in a comment period that closed today. This is the largest number ofcomments ever submitted on a federal decision involving endangered species andreflects broad dissatisfaction with the Obama administration’s politicallydriven move to turn wolf management over to states across most of the lower 48.

“Americansoverwhelmingly oppose removing protections for wolves, and for good reason.Wolves have recovered to just a fraction of their range and are severelythreatened by state-sanctioned hunts intended to decimate them,” said KieránSuckling, executive director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hopethe Obama administration will hear the pleas of hundreds of thousands ofcitizens and maintain these still critically needed protections for wolves.”

The 750,000 + comments,being delivered today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by multipleconservation groups, will bring the total number to well over one million.

There were once up to 2million gray wolves living in North America, but the animals had been driven tonear-extinction in the lower 48 states by the early 1900s. After passage of thefederal Endangered Species Act in 1973 and protection of the wolf asendangered, federal recovery programs resulted in the rebound of wolfpopulations in limited parts of the country. Roughly 5,500 wolves currentlylive in the continental United States – a fraction of the species’ historicnumbers.

“The North American graywolf’s recovery in certain areas of the United States is something tocelebrate, but an abundance of evidence shows the work is not yet complete,”said International Fund for Animal Welfare president and CEO Azzedine Downes.“I applaud actions to help protect this critical species, and I strongly urgethe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not go through with this proposal.”

TheObama administration’s proposal would remove existing protections for wolveseverywhere except Arizona and New Mexico, where the Mexican wolf is strugglingto survive with an estimatedpopulation of just 75 wolves. Thisproposalwould abandon protections for wolves in places where wolf recovery is just inits infancy, such as Oregon and Washington, and would prevent wolves fromrecovering in other places where good wolf habitat has been identified,including northern California, the southern Rocky Mountains, and theNortheast.

“Oregon wolves have taken the firsttentative steps towards recovery in the last few years,” said SeanStevens, executive director with Oregon Wild. “If the Obama administrationtakes away the strong protections of the Endangered Species Act, we pull therug out from the fragile success story here on the West Coast and leave thefate of wolves in the hands of state agencies in Idaho, Montana, and Wyomingwho have proven incapable of balanced management.”

“The restoration of the gray wolf could be one ofthe great American wildlife conservation success stories if Secretary Jewelwould just finish the job.” Leda Huta, executive director of the EndangeredSpecies Coalition.

Nicole Paquette, vicepresident of Wildlife Protection for The Humane Society of the United Statessaid: “Anti-wolf sentiments nearly led to the extermination of America’swolves, and just when populations are starting to bounce back, the federalgovernment is considering a plan that could place them in jeopardy. Rather thancatering to interests from trophy hunters and fear mongering, we hope thefederal government rejects this proposal and works towards the recovery of thisspecies.”

“Theincredible volume of comments give voice to a sad fact: the delisting proposal isa radical departure from the optimism and couragewe need to promote endangered species recovery in this country. The comments show that Americansbelieve the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal falls well short of the conservation idealsthis country stood for 40 years ago when the Endangered Species Act wassigned.” said Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark.

“The national wolfdelisting scheme is simply too much, too soon,” said NRDC PresidentFrances Beinecke. “It is a potential death sentence for new populationsand prevents wolves from ever reaching areas where they could be a boon forhabitat in need of their stabilizing influence. The return of wolves to thecontinental United States still stands as one of the greatest conservationstories ever written and we stand ready to fight to prevent it from beingundone by this short-sighted policy move.”

“Americans areoutraged and hundreds of thousands are saying it loudly and clearly; the job ofwolf recovery is not done,” said John Horning Executive Director ofWildEarth Guardians. “The Fish and Wildlife Service is not only wildlifewrong on the science of wolf recovery but also wildly out of step with thedesires of most Americans who want to see federal protections for wolves maintained.”

“The number of publiccomments is a testament to the importance of wolves to our American story. Nowis the time we should be pressing in to continue the job of wolf recovery, notabandoning wolves to the same kinds of destructive forces that endangered themin the first place,” said Dan Chu, director of Sierra Club’s Our WildAmerica Campaign.

“You don’t spend 40years nursing a species back from the brink of extinction, only to suddenlydeclare ‘open season’ on them. There are only a few dozen viable packs in anarea that used to be home to over a millions wolves. There’s plenty of room inAmerica for wolves, people and an abundance of other species. But If SecretaryJewell allows this plan to go ahead, she’ll be responsible for the destructionof one of the most amazing, intelligent and iconic species inAmerica.” said Drew Hudson,Environmental Action.

Camilla Fox, Executive Director, Project Coyotesaid: “As wolves come underthe gun in an upcoming wolf/coyote killing ‘derby’ in Idaho where prizesawarded for the largest killed, it is abundantly clear that the very practicesthat sent wolves to the brink of extinction still endanger theirpersistence.”

“Fish and Wildlife Service is snatching defeatfrom the jaws of victory. Instead of restoring wolves to their rightful placesfrom coast to coast — as it did for bald eagles — the agency wants to abandonwolf recovery before the job is done,” said Trip Van Noppen, Earthjusticepresident. “Today hundreds of thousands of citizens told FWS to go back to workand protect our wolves.”

Other Contact
Kierán Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity, (520) 275-5960 Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467 Melanie Gade, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0288 Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild, (503)283-6343
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