Judge puts wolves back on Endangered Species List, AFBF & NCBA disappointed
A California judge has again placed wolves on the Endangered Species List.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White vacated and remanded a previous court decision from November 3rd, 2020 that removed the gray wolf from protections.
Judge White also agreed with the environmental groups in saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service improperly relied on inadequate and outdated state plans for wolf management when deciding to remove protections for wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin saying the state plans are not sufficiently protective.
The court ruling was released Thursday afternoon, February 10th. So far, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources tells Brownfield they are reviewing the new ruling and not commenting at this time. Wisconsin’s agriculture organizations have also not yet commented on the ruling as of Thursday afternoon.
White’s ruling says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot rely on the definition of “species” as an independent basis for delisting wolves. The court also says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to evaluate the full-listed gray wolf species and the status of west coast wolves. The court says the service’s interpretation of the wolf’s range was arbitrary and capricious.
Reactions to the court ruling:
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval issued a statement about the ruling late Thursday saying, “AFBF is extremely disappointed in the ruling to return the gray wolf to the endangered species list. The gray wolf exceeded recovery goals and should be celebrated as an Endangered Species Act success story. The ESA is intended to promote species recovery and delisting, not to impose permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. Today’s ruling ignored ESA goals and threatens recovery efforts for other animals.” Duvall says, “Farmers and ranchers share the goal of a healthy and thriving ecosystem. Management of the fully recovered gray wolf should be overseen by the states, which can best determine the most appropriate course of action for each region.
Kaitlynn Glover is the Executive Director of Natural Resources for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Executive Director of the Public Lands Council. She says, “It’s disappointing that environmental activism carried more weight than science in this case. Rather than ruling on due process and adherence to recovery criterion, Judge White chose to remand the rule and undermine one of the most successful ESA recovery stories in United States history,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Public Lands Council Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This is just another attempt by activist groups to ignore the facts and rewrite the history of gray wolf recovery in the U.S.” She adds, “ESA should not be used as a permanent management tool. Today’s decision conflicts with the intended purpose of the Act and removes critical management tools for wolves that pose a tremendous threat to farmers and ranchers, rural economies, and vital land and natural resource conservation.”