Wolves Lawyer Up, Head Back to Court

Wolves Lawyer Up, Head Back to Court

Wildlife advocates expected the Obama Administration to stand on the side of wildlife protections. Those hopes failed when new Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar upheld Bush administration plans to delist wolves from the Endangered Species Act, thereby allowing blood-red states like Idaho and Montana to paint targets on the wild wolves. In an effort to protect the endangered wolf populations from being hunted back into oblivion, the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and Defenders of Wildlife have hired lawyers for the wolves. Lawsuits have been filed in federal court to reverse the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the wolves. Last year, when Bush and Co. removed the Northern Rockies wolves from the Endangered Species list and turned management of the threatened populations over to the states, those states immediately opened hunting seasons. More than 100 wolves were killed in less than 100 days. A federal judge then agreed with environmentalist who sued to reverse the delisting, and the wolves were relisted while additional information was gathered. After Salazar took the helm of the Department of Interior, he infuriorated wildlife advocates and delighted ranchers by rubberstamping Bush policies. This time, Idaho plans to get rid of wolves as quickly as possible. The state game department has announced plans to eradicate at least 26 packs in the state. NRDC experts maintain that such actions would reverse the enormous progress to date on wolf recovery in the region. So, a lawsuit was filed to block those plans. The suit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, Wildlands Project, and Hell’s Canyon Preservation Council. In short, this is a suit endorsed and supported by a broad coalition of interests, representing millions of U.S. citizens. “This situation is a mess. The government not only managed to find a solution that is illegal, but it also fails to meet the needs of wolves or people in the region,” said Andrew Wetzler, Director of NRDC’s Wildlife Conservation Project. “Let’s find a real, long-term solution to this problem that takes into account the needs on both sides. That requires serious recovery goals based on the latest science. It’s a common sense approach and it will prevent the fate of wolves from bouncing around the courts once and for all.” Bottom line: The battle goes on, and until politics are tempered by science, wolves won't be safe in our country.
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