Feds Reinstate Wolf Protections in Northern Rockies
Wolf supporters howled in celebration on September 23 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would toss out its own gray wolf delisting rule in the Northern Rockies and go back to the drawing board. Wolves were removed from the endangered species list in March 2008, and the Sierra Club, along with a dozen other conservation groups, challenged the decision in court this April.
The Club sent out multiple action alerts, generating 6,400 letters and emails to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, and more than 7,000 missives each to the Director of Wyoming Tourism, the President of the Wyoming Chamber of Commerce, and the Director of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. A University of Montana study found that the presence of wolves generates $40 million a year to the counties surrounding Yellowstone National Park.
In July, Judge Donald Molloy reinstated federal protection for the Northern Rockies gray wolf, agreeing with the Sierra Club's assertion that delisting was premature and inappropriate, and citing inadequate state management plans that allow for indiscriminate killing of wolves. In Wyoming, the state management plan allowed wolves to be shot on sight in 87 percent of the state.
The Fish and Wildlife Service will now open the process up for public comment and review, during which time wolves will be protected under the Endangered Species Act in the Northern Rockies. "We're very pleased the agency has acknowledged that the delisting rule was flawed," says Sierra Club organizer Melanie Stein, above left, with fiance Tim Grayson watching wolves at right. "Now we have another chance to push for responsible, science-based management plans that will allow wolves to prosper in the Northern Rockies."
Wolf photos by Larry Allen. Group photo courtesy of Yellowstone National Park.