SCI And USFWS Celebrate Historic Recovery And Delisting of Gray Wolves

After 45 years of protection, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today its decision to delist the gray wolf from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This decision is unequivocally based on the best available science, including both recent and historical information regarding wolf numbers and distribution in the contiguous U.S.  One of America’s greatest conservation success stories is finally receiving the recognition and celebration it deserves.

In total, the gray wolf population in the lower 48 states is more than 6,000 wolves, greatly exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations.

The gray wolf is the latest in a strong list of ESA recoveries that includes the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, American alligator, brown pelican and 48 other species of animals and plants in U.S. states, territories and waters. Countless more have improved or stabilized. Collectively, these successes demonstrate that the ESA can make a difference for imperiled species.

No administration in history has recovered more imperiled species in their first term than the Trump Administration. Since 2017, thirteen species – and now the gray wolf – have been determined to not be either a threatened species or endangered species under the ESA’s List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and another seven species have been downlisted from endangered species to threatened species. To provide context for this in looking at other administrations in their first term, the Obama Administration recovered six species; the Bush Administration recovered eight species; and the Clinton Administration recovered nine species.

“Safari Club International and our members throughout the country applaud Secretary Bernhardt and Director Skipwith for seeing past emotionally driven rhetoric and letting the best scientific and commercial data available guide their decision to delist the gray wolf,” said SCI International CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. “This is an Endangered Species Act success story and one that should be celebrated by all conservationists. We look forward to working with state fish and wildlife agencies and conservation partners alike to ensure wolf population levels are maintained in line with management objectives.”

Few organizations have been more closely involved with the issue of wolf delisting than SCI. For almost 20 years, SCI has gone to court to advocate for state management of wolves. SCI has defended the USFWS’s delisting of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves, Western Great Lakes wolves, and Wyoming’s wolves in numerous cases. SCI’s legal team has also filed petitions for wolf delisting, submitted multiple comments supporting delisting rules, and testified in public hearings. SCI’s government affairs team has also supported and been engaged on numerous pieces of congressional legislation aimed at delisting gray wolves.

The SCI Foundation has also been active on wolf-related research, providing hundreds of thousands of private dollars to leverage millions of state and provincial dollars dedicated to improving the scientific understanding of wolf ecology and population dynamics in Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming.

“Wolves deserve to be managed by very best science available to ensure that their populations are sustainable into the future,” said Jim Hammill – chairman of SCIF’s Conservation Committee and a retired biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “There is no question that wolves are recovered in nearly all of their suitable remaining range. State wildlife agencies have the expertise and ultimate responsibility for management of this iconic species.”

SCI will continue supporting the transition of wolf management to the states and will continue to advocate for hunting as a management tool for wolves. As has been proven with other predator species, hunting can effectively manage population numbers, reduce conflicts with humans and livestock, and provide incentives for landowner tolerance while funding the science-based North American model of conservation.

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Categories: SCI News

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