WASHINGTON— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received a record-breaking 1.8 million digital comments opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protection from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. The proposal’s official comment period ends today.
Of those, 650,000 comments came from members of the Center for Biological Diversity.
In a mass grassroots organizing effort, more than 1,000 volunteers from across the country collected 53,000 handwritten comments at farmers markets, dog parks, on the street, and at local events. This marks the largest number of comments ever received by the federal government on an Endangered Species Act issue in the law’s 45-year history.
“This overwhelming opposition shows that the Trump administration’s anti-wildlife agenda is out of touch with the values of most Americans,” said Valerie Love, deputy organizing director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With such loud public outcry, there’s no way the Fish and Wildlife Service can deny the broad support for continuing wolf protection.”
The groundswell of opposition also included dozens of district meetings with members of Congress and thousands of phone calls to their Washington, D.C. offices. Those actions resulted in 17 senators and 69 representatives signing letters opposing wolf delisting.
“We’ve barely been able to keep up with the massive number of people who want to volunteer with us to keep wolves protected,” said Love. “People are fired up because they don’t want the Trump administration to return us to the days when wolves were shot on sight and killed in traps.”
In March the Service announced plans to strip gray wolves of Endangered Species Act protection. The proposal would remove federal protection from all gray wolves in the contiguous United States, except Mexican gray wolves. If finalized the plan will allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in some areas, and essentially end wolf recovery in the lower 48 states.
The peer reviews commissioned by the Fish and Wildlife Service stated the agency’s proposal contains substantial errors and misrepresents the most current science regarding wolf conservation and taxonomy. The five reviewers unanimously criticized the delisting proposal, and four offered strong opposition.