San Francisco, CA. — Animal Wellness Action (AWA), and the Center for a Humane Economy (CHE), and affiliates applauded a U.S. District Court for doing away with a last-minute Trump administration rule removing wolves from the Endangered Species Act and restoring protections for the species across most of the lower 48 states. AWA, CHE, the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, and more than a dozen other organizations filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge to the federal delisting.
“The federal courts have again demonstrated that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has misread the science and the law and prematurely de-listed wolves,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “This restoration of federal protections restores critical protections for wolves, especially in the Great Lakes region, and now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should reassess its misreading of the ongoing assault on wolves by states in the Northern Rockies.”
In sweeping aside the rule, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey S. White found that the “deficiencies in the Final Rule are serious and weigh in favor of vacatur.” The judge’s ruling means that it is once again illegal to kill wolves for sport in all states except the Northern Rockies, where the federal government turned over control of wolf populations to Montana and Idaho in another set of rulemakings several years ago.
The ruling comes after Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, Project Coyote, Friends of Wisconsin Wolf and Wildlife and Wisconsin resident Pat Clark succeeded in a legal action against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), enjoining the wolf hunt in that state. That decision rested largely on the judge’s concerns with DNR’s inability to finalize rules related to wolf hunting in the state despite the law providing for the hunts being enacted in 2011. Pointing to a failure of democratic decision-making, Judge Frost acknowledged the “perverse result of an emergency rule that has lasted about a decade.”
While successful in ending Wisconsin’s massacre of wolves planned for the fall of 2021, the restoration of federal protections was critical to long term protections of wolf populations in Wisconsin and across many other states.