USFWS Grants Radical Environmental Groups Review of Gray Wolves in the West

September 16, 2021

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has completed the initial review of two petitions filed to list gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the western U.S. as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service finds that the petitions by animal activist and environmental groups like Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Western Watersheds Project present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S. 

On June 1, 2021, the Service received a petition (dated May 26, 2021) to list the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment (DPS) or a new western U.S. DPS as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA. The Service received a second, similar petition on July 29, 2021 (addendum). The Federal Register notice will serve as the 90-day finding for both petitions.

"We’re disappointed to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service move forward with a 12-month status review for the gray wolves in the western United States. It is unacceptable for the Service to continue to be held hostage by groups who want nothing more than to turn the Endangered Species Act into a permanent management tool," said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. "We are confident that the review will confirm what we’ve known to be true for years: gray wolves are recovered and no longer need or meet the requirements for listing under the Endangered Species Act. It is appropriate for the Service to continue to monitor state management of these recovered populations, but we urge them to dedicate resources to species that are truly imperiled. We will continue to defend delisting of these clearly-recovered gray wolf populations."

“The state of Wyoming has long demonstrated it can effectively manage and protect the state’s wolf population. Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the courts have determined the gray wolf has recovered enough to be delisted in the state," said U.S. Senator John Barrasso (r-Wyo.) "Today’s actions are just more of the endless political antics from Washington bureaucrats and extreme environmentalists who have no interest in doing what’s right for Wyoming. Wyoming, not Washington, continues to be in the best position to manage the state’s wolf population.”

Under the ESA, a DPS is a portion of a species' or subspecies' population or range and is described geographically instead of biologic ally. The first petition proposes listing a Northern Rocky Mountain DPS consisting of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small portion of north-central Utah. Both petitions also propose some alternative Western U.S. DPS to include all, or part, of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS states with the addition of California, Colorado, Nevada, and in one petition, northern Arizona.

The Service finds the petitioners (Center for Biological Diversity, HSUS and Western Watersheds Project) present substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S. The Service also finds that new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat. Therefore, the Service finds that gray wolves in the western U.S. may warrant listing.

Substantial 90-day findings require only that the petitioner provide information that the proposed action may be warranted. The next steps for the Service include in-depth status reviews and analyses using the best available science and information to arrive at a 12-month finding on whether listing is warranted. If so, listing a species is done through a separate rulemaking process, with public notice and comment.

The public can play an important role by submitting relevant information to inform the in-depth status review through, Docket Number: FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0106, beginning September 17, 2021, upon publication in the Federal Register and will include details on how to submit comments.

The 90-day finding and petition review form associated with this announcement are now available for review.

Visit the Service online to learn more about gray wolves and the ESA petition process.

Source: USFWS & NCBA/PLC & U.S. Senator John Barrasso