For Immediate Release, September 15, 2021

Contact:

Andrea Zaccardi, Center for Biological Diversity, (303) 854-7748, azaccardi@biologicaldiversity.org
Rodi Rosensweig, The Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society Legislative Fund,
(202) 809-8711, rrosensweig@humanesociety.org
Bonnie Rice, Sierra Club, (406) 640-2857, bonnie.rice@sierraclub.org

Wolves in Northern Rockies One Step Closer to Endangered Species Protection

Aggressive New Wolf-Killing Measures in Idaho, Montana Prompt Federal Review of Wolves' Status

VICTOR, Idaho— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that wolves in the West may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The decision comes in response to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Sierra Club.

Today’s decision begins a formal status review of gray wolves across the western United States. While the Fish and Wildlife Service declined to immediately restore wolf protection on an emergency basis as the petition requested, the agency determined that protecting the species in the northern Rockies or across the western United States may be warranted based largely on new laws in Idaho and Montana that authorize the widespread killing of wolves.

Numerous Tribal nations are also calling for the emergency relisting of gray wolves and for the Biden administration to honor treaty and trust obligations that require consultation with the Tribes on protection and management of gray wolves.

“I’m hopeful that wolves will eventually get the protection they deserve, but the Fish and Wildlife Service should have stopped the wolf-killing now,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Anti-wolf policies in Idaho and Montana could wipe out wolves and erase decades of wolf recovery. We’re glad that federal officials have started a review, but wolves are under the gun now so they need protection right away.”

“We’re glad the Service has taken this important first step toward restoring the federal protections that Idaho and Montana’s wolves desperately need, but it isn’t enough,” said Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for wildlife at the Humane Society of the Unites States. “Wolves simply cannot afford to be exposed to months of cruel and wanton slaughter while the Service completes its review. Without an emergency relisting now, there may not be much of a population left to protect when the process is complete.”

“Today’s decision by the Service is a step toward recognizing serious new threats to wolves from hostile state management policies, but it falls short in granting the emergency protection that wolves need right now,” said Bonnie Rice, senior representative with Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. “The goal of Montana and Idaho’s extreme new laws is to decimate wolf populations in the northern Rockies. It makes no sense to allow wolves to be driven back to the brink of extinction and reverse over 40 years of wolf recovery efforts.”

Idaho’s new laws took effect July 1. Montana’s general wolf-hunting season begins today. Trapping for wolves in Montana will begin two weeks earlier this year, on Nov. 29, and extend two weeks later to March 15 as a result of the new law.

Idaho’s new law could wipe out up to 90% of the state’s wolf population. It calls for private contractors to kill wolves, allows hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, and permits trapping year-round on private lands across the state. People can also chase wolves with hounds or run them over with all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.

Montana’s new laws risk the killing of approximately 85% of the state’s wolf population. They permit the use of strangulation snares, night hunting and bait to hunt and trap wolves. Hunters and trappers can kill up to 10 wolves each and can be reimbursed for their expenses killing wolves through a new bounty program. While Montana previously set strict quotas outside Yellowstone National Park to limit killing of Yellowstone’s wolves, those quotas have been eliminated.

The Endangered Species Act requires that the Service make a final decision within one year of the May 26, 2021 petition.

Yellowstone_wolf_National_Park_Service_Jacob_Frank_Public_Domain_FPWC_2.jpg
Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States fights the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, we take on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries. With our affiliates, we rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals every year through our animal rescue team’s work and other hands-on animal care services. We fight all forms of animal cruelty to achieve the vision behind our name: A humane society.

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office.