Eleanor Hildebrandt | February 11, 2022
Gray wolves will soon regain federal protections across the country following a district court ruling.
On Thursday Senior District Judge Jeffery S. White in northern California ruled a Trump-era decision to end protection of wolves did not adequately consider the threats still present to the species. Prior to the ruling, the Biden administration defended the policy decision in court. The New York Times reported the decision applies to 44 U.S. states. Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming’s wolves will remain unprotected, since the species lost protections before the Trump administration’s decision. New Mexico’s wolves, however, never lost protection because they are considered a separate population.
When wolves were formally removed from the endangered species list in October 2020, hunting increased sharply in various states. Wisconsin cut its wolf hunting season short because more than 200 wolves were killed in less than 60 hours. The state’s quota is 119. Wolves were one of the original species protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The protection of the animals, however, has remained controversial in the Western U.S. where some ranchers lose livestock to the predators.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland expressed concern for the population prior to the ruling, saying she was alarmed by the number of wolves being killed in an essay for USA Today.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the decision from the court and the service’s conservation of wolves is expected to begin again soon.