Wolf, © Sandy Sisti

USFWS Halts Peer Review Process

Public outcry over excluded experts raises serious concerns over scientific integrity

Finally, a positive sign in this ongoing fight to protect our nation’s wolves!

Last week, we learned that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had barred several highly respected scientists – including three of the world’s top wolf experts – from participating in the “independent” peer review process of their proposal to delist wolves across the lower 48 states. Why? Because in May, they had sent a letter to Secretary Jewell expressing concern that the proposal contained no scientific support, and that their own research was being distorted in order to justify the delisting of wolves.

©Chagares Photography

©Chagares Photography

Of course, we leapt into action and called upon you to do the same. Nearly 60,000 of you sent letters to FWS Director Dan Ashe demanding that the agency follow the guidelines set forward by the National Academy of Sciences and allow top experts to participate in the peer review process. And yesterday, we got word that the FWS has halted the peer review!

We will continue to call on the FWS to move forward with a fair peer review of their proposal by top wolf experts and scientists, and we’ll keep letting you know how you can get involved in the efforts to fight this delisting.

Here’s what our president had to say about the review in a recent press release:

“While we still disagree on the merits of this premature delisting proposal, at least the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service understands the magnitude of the issue. It’s a relief that the Service has listened to the voices of wildlife supporters nationwide who have called the integrity of their peer review process into question. Cherry-picking scientists is not a good way to do business. To ensure impartiality and scientific integrity, we recommend that the Service turn the peer review over to the National Academy of Sciences instead of trying to manage the process itself. Either way, we look forward to a fair peer review of the science behind this ill-advised delisting proposal, and we hope the Service turns to the best experts in the field regardless of whether they have written letters about the use of their science in the proposal.”


Last week, several wolf experts were excluded from consideration for a peer review panel to evaluate the scientific basis for delisting gray wolves nationwide. They were excluded for signing a letter in May that criticized the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal, saying: “Based on a careful review of the rule, we do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves, or is in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.” Among those excluded were Robert Wayne of UCLA, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University and John Vucetich of Michigan Technological University.

 Click here to support our work to fight this proposal and to protect wolves and other wildlife.

5 Responses to “USFWS Halts Peer Review Process”

  1. Diqui LaPenta

    Richard Guadagno was a law enforcement officer with USFWS and the manager at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. He was a staunch advocate for protecting wolves.

    He was also one of the passengers that fought back against the terrorists on United Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11/2001. Delisting the wolves is a disgrace and an insult to his legacy of service to the USFWS.


    Diqui LaPenta

    • Gary E. Shilling


      I knew Rich when he was the manager at Baskett Slough NWR in Oregon and I worked for the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

      I used to visit Rich at the refuge house and was always impressed with his caribou antlers festooned in red, white and blue. Everything that you and everyone else have said about Rich was certainly experienced by me. He ‘is’ an extraordinary person and I am so much the better for having known him.

      Diqui, I couldn’t agree more with you regarding the wolf situation, it will be a dishonor to Rich if the Service decides to end wolf protection. Politics is a major reason I left government service and have worked for myself doing habitat restoration work in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming & Montana. There are a lot of occasions I wish I could consult with Rich.

      Diqui, all the best to you.

      Gary Shilling

  2. Bridge Robertson

    I cannot Pin this very important article. The image is too small!

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