California Judge Restores Federal Protection for Wolves

February 11, 2022

A federal judge in California has returned wolves in many parts of the United States to the endangered species list. The judge's ruling reverses a Trump-era rule that removed Endangered Species Act protection for the apex predator.

The ruling doesn't apply to wolves in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, where management will remain in state control.

The Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are mostly affected by the ruling. Some west coast states plus Arizona and New Mexico are also included.

“It's disappointing that environmental activism carried more weight than science in this case. Rather than ruling on due process and adherence to recovery criterion, Judge White chose to remand the rule and undermine one of the most successful ESA recovery stories in United States history,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This is just another attempt by activist groups to ignore the facts and rewrite the history of gray wolf recovery in the U.S.”

NCBA and PLC believe in making science-based decisions, and data shows the gray wolf population is recovered and no longer meets requirements for a listing. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf population has seen tremendous recovery, exceeding recovery goals by 300 percent.

“ESA should not be used as a permanent management tool. The decision conflicts with the intended purpose of the Act and removes critical management tools for wolves that pose a tremendous threat to farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and vital land and natural resource conservation,” said Glover.

Cattle and sheep producers experience, daily, the consequences of gray wolf overpopulation.

“One year, I lost 26 calves due to gray wolf attacks,” said Minnesota cattleman Joe Wilebski. “As a producer, my top priority is the health and safety of my livestock. The consequences of gray wolf attacks go far beyond the immediate loss of livestock. When wolves attack animals, even if they aren’t killed, it causes long-term effects on their overall health and well-being.”

Across the country, increased attacks on livestock are threatening the viability of family-owned farms and ranches. NCBA and PLC will continue to fight for science-based decisions regarding ESA listing and look toward the Biden administration to do the same.

Source: National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Western Ag Network