Endangered Species Act protection sought for wolves in the northern Rockies

VICTOR, Idaho– The Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Sierra Club today called on the US Fish and Wildlife Service to restore federal protection under the Endangered Species Act for gray wolves, after Idaho and Montana passed legislation to dramatically reduce wolf populations in those states.

“Idaho and Montana legislative guidelines to kill wolves by almost any means possible seriously endanger western wolf populations,” said Andrea Zaccardi, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The United States Fish and Wildlife Service should immediately return Endangered Species Act protections to these wolves to end the impending killings statewide before it is too late.”

In May, the Idaho legislature passed Senate Bill 1211, allowing the state to hire private contractors to kill up to 90% of Idaho’s wolf population. It also allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, take down wolves with ATVs and snowmobiles, and trap year round on private land across the state.

Likewise, Montana’s Senate Bill 314 could result in the slaughter of over 85% of the state’s wolves. The law pushes the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to allow hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves by baiting, trapping and night hunts using night vision goggles and searchlights.

More, Montana House Bill 224 allows license holders to trap multiple wolves during the state’s trapping season, while Bill 225 extends wolf trapping seasons by four weeks. Expenses incurred by wolf hunters and trappers during this extended season can be reimbursed under the bounty program of Senate Bill 267.

“The US Fish and Wildlife Service cannot stand idly by while Idaho and Montana order wolf extermination to appease the livestock industry and trophy hunters,” said Nicholas Arrivo, lawyer in charge. of Wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. “The agency must live up to its obligation to restore federal protections, or risk wolves disappearing from the West again.”

Because recent legislation in Idaho and Montana calls for the virtual eradication of wolves, the petition explains that the return of wolves to federal management is both legally required and necessary for the survival and recovery of these wolves. .

“As a keystone species, wolves play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and reducing the spread of wildlife diseases such as chronic wasting disease,” said Bonnie Rice, representative. main campaign of the Sierra Club. “These extreme and unethical Montana and Idaho laws to kill 85-90% of the states wolf populations will not only reverse 50 years of wolf recovery efforts, but also demolish entire ecosystems. . Endangered species protections must be restored to wolves in the northern Rockies now before it is too late.

“Time and time again, the federal government‘s bowing to a special interest has resulted in the wrongful deaths of thousands of gray wolves due to the state’s mismanagement of this species,” said Keisha Sedlacek, director of business regulations at the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “It’s time for the Biden administration to deliver on its commitment to use solid science to protect endangered wildlife and to act quickly to restore federal protections for gray wolves, especially those in the northern Rockies.”

In response to Idaho’s wolf killing legislation, the Center earlier this month called on the US Department of the Interior and the Service to ban the state from receiving federal funding for wildlife management. under the Pittman-Robertson Act. The Center also urged the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to exercise restraint in implementing new wolf legislation or risk being disqualified for such federal funds.

In 2020, Idaho received more than $ 18 million in wildlife management funding authorized by the Pittman-Robertson Act; Montana received more than $ 24.4 million.

The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to respond to today’s petition within 90 days.

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