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For Immediate Release, March 11, 2011

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

As Congress Takes Aim, New Numbers Show Declining Wolf Population in Northern Rockies

SILVER CITY, N.M.— The number of gray wolves fell in 2010, according to federal records made public today, declining from an estimated 1,733 in 2009 to 1,651 last year in a population that ranges through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington. The number of breeding pairs also declined from 115 to 111. The decline was largely due to federal trapping and aerial gunning, which killed 260 wolves during 2010.

“The decline in wolf numbers reflects heavy-handed federal management even as wolves remain on the endangered species list,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Despite the decline in numbers, some members in Congress are intent on stripping away their federal protections, even if it means doing so by attaching riders to a must-pass spending bill.”

A 19 percent decline in wolf numbers in Idaho, from 870 to 705 animals, accounted for the regional decline despite slight population growth in Montana (524 to 566) and Wyoming (320 to 343).

In Oregon and Washington, 37 wolves, including three breeding pairs, were counted in 2010, up from 19 wolves in the two states the year before.

Licensed hunters killed 48 wolves in Idaho in 2010 before Aug. 5, when U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy restored wolves to the endangered species list in a case brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and allied conservation organizations.

A rider attached to both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate versions of the continuing resolution spending bill would permanently and irrevocably remove wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list. If passed, wolves would be the first endangered species to have their protections removed by politicians, as opposed to the science-based process prescribed in the Endangered Species Act.

“Removing federal protections from wolves through a rider would remove all protections for wolves and allow for even more killing,” said Robinson. “Wolf numbers are no longer going up, and there is no supposed emergency that would justify the politicization of a process that’s supposed to be based on science. Congressional wolf delisting would unleash ruthless persecution of wolf parents and their soon-to-be-born pups, and would set a precedent inviting politicians to delist other endangered species that may similarly be in the crosshairs of powerful special interests.”

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