WASHINGTON, DC -- Gray wolves would lose most federal protections under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal announced today. Dr. Sylvia Fallon, senior scientist and director of the wildlife conservation program with the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following comments:
“This would effectively slam the door on wolf recovery nationwide. Gray wolves are still recovering across the continental United States. With continued protection, there's great potential for them to return to their native range across the West and Northeast. By stripping those needed protections, this proposal would leave wolves out in the cold. We urge the agency to take a hard look at the science and reconsider.”
Today's proposal would remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves throughout the lower-48 states, which would effectively put an end to any chance of the animals’ return to much of its original range. Except for a small population of Mexican wolves in the southwest, wolves would no longer be federally protected anywhere in the U.S.
Gray wolves once roamed most of the country: they now occupy less than 10 percent of their historic range. While these animals will never be as widespread as they once were, suitable habitat still exists in the Pacific Northwest, California, Utah, Colorado and multiple states in the Northeast. However, without federal protections wolves are unlikely to ever re-establish in these areas. NRDC experts note serious flaws in the that the Service’s reasoning for stripping legal protections including a controversial claim that a different species of wolf lived in the eastern U.S., eliminating the need for gray wolf protections in the region.
For additional information on the delisting, check Dr. Fallon’s Switchboard blog at: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/sfallon/national_wolf_delisting_too_mu.html
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.