Wolves are now protected by Federal Endangered Species Act

On February 11, 2022, U.S. Federal District Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had failed to show wolf populations could be sustained without protections. In this decision, Federal protections were restored for wolves at the request of three related lawsuits by 16 wildlife conservation organizations. This immediately restored Endangered Species Act protections to all wolves in the U.S. except those in the Northern Rockies (Idaho, Montana and Wyoming).

In his decision, White wrote that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), “...similar to its previous rulemaking, did not adequately consider threats to wolves outside of these core populations. Instead, the Service avoids analyzing these wolves by concluding, with little explanation or analysis, that wolves outside of the core populations are not necessary to the recovery of the species.”

The Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Minnesota and surrounding states, including Wisconsin, stops wolf trophy hunting and trapping seasons–for now. While wolf trophy hunting has been stopped by the federal courts for the time being, it’s important for us to continue working on wolf plans that support effective and nonlethal conflict prevention strategies and enforcement of illegal poaching laws. In Minnestoa, for example, should these protections be removed, our wolves will once again face the potential for an immediate wolf hunt.

This relisting onto the federal Endangered Species List provides more than federal protections for wolves; it provides the time and space necessary for people, policymakers, and agencies to work toward achieving the important cultural paradigm shift to nonlethal wolf plans.

Although there is much to celebrate in this ruling, it fails to protect Northern Rockies wolves from virtually unregulated hunting seasons imposed by state legislatures last year. These hunts intentionally severely reduce local wolf populations using cruel methods in the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

The USFWS is currently considering petitions calling for emergency relisting of wolves of the Northern Rocky mountains and is accepting comments from the public. Tens of thousands of comments in support of restoring protections for wolves. You can take action by clicking here.

February 18, 2022