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Wolves once again in the crosshairs

Delisting rule removes protections for wolves in much of Northern Rockies

(05/04/2009) - WASHINGTON – Today, wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern portions of Oregon and Washington and northern Utah lose federal protections and become subject to the terms of a federal delisting rule that allows more than two thirds of the current population to be killed. This Bush administration rule was given the green light by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar only weeks after he took office, in the face of overwhelming public opposition to the Bush rule and without any consultation with conservationists, congressional leaders, or scientists outside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now, an already tenuous wolf population will be subject to a scientifically flawed and overly aggressive delisting plan that does not provide for a sustainable and long-term future for wolves in the Northern Rockies.

The following is a statement by Rodger Schlickeisen, president for Defenders of Wildlife:

 “Today’s delisting is a potentially disastrous turn for a venture that began in 1995 in such a hopeful and rewarding manner: the restoration of wolves to their natural landscape in the West.  We are outraged and dismayed that Secretary Salazar put his stamp of approval on this premature and inadequate Bush administration plan for wolf. 

“We all expected more from the Obama administration, which repeatedly promised it would consult with conservationists, scientists, and other stakeholders on key issues before making decisions.  Secretary Salazar rejected our offer to work with him to find the right way to delist wolves in the region and, instead, made his surprise announcement that he was removing federal protections for vulnerable wolves with no transparency at all. Defenders of Wildlife immediately filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act so we could learn who the Secretary talked to about the issue and what scientific review he undertook – and we are still waiting for an answer.  Meanwhile we are moving to sue Secretary Salazar as soon as possible to overturn this misguided and unwarranted decision.

“The delisting plan allows these two states to reduce wolf populations to levels that would threaten genetic diversity between populations and undermine the goal of ensuring a healthy, sustainable wolf population in the region. Secretary Salazar’s terrible decision leaves us no choice. We will stand up for wolves and endangered species conservation by moving to challenge this delisting in court as soon as the law allows.”

The following is a statement by Suzanne Stone, Northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife.

“All the reasons why this plan was a bad idea when the Bush administration proposed it still stand today. It allows all but 300 – of an estimated total of 1,343 – of the wolves in Idaho and Montana to be killed. These numbers do not even account for the new pups being born as we speak, who are easy targets for those who would wish them harm.

“The delisting plan ignores current science on what wolves need to maintain a healthy population over the long term. It also ignores the hundreds of thousands of citizens who have asked for a better plan, and it flies in the face of the fact that wolf populations cannot be distinguished on the basis of political boundaries for the purpose of applying the ESA.

“With respect to Idaho and Montana, little about this rule has changed since it was rejected and deemed unlawful in a federal court in July of 2008.

“Idaho, which hosts the majority of the region’s wolf population, has already publically announced its desire to aggressively reduce its state wolf population once federal protections are lifted. Today, there are at least 25 packs on the short-list that may be targeted for removal. It is actions such as these that we fear, and must prevent.

“Delisting the wolf at this point in time completely undermines the serious work, consideration and cooperation among all stakeholders that is necessary before being able to objectively declare the gray wolf recovered.”

Read more about Defenders' work on Northern Rockies wolves.

Read about our ongoing legal efforts here.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit



Suzanne Asha Stone, (208)424-9385 (office), (208)861-4655 (cell)
Erin McCallum, (202)772-3217; (610)207-5209

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