FWS ignores wolf supporters in CO, Northwest – In case you missed our press release earlier this week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it will only host one public hearing across the entire western range of the gray wolf! Defenders President Jamie Rappaport Clark had this to say:
“We are very disappointed to see the Obama administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service ignoring wolf supporters in the some of the nation’s best remaining unoccupied wolf habitat. The federal government is essentially turning its back on Americans who want to see thriving wolf populations restored to their states. Those who oppose the Service’s premature and short-sighted delisting proposal deserve a chance to voice their concerns. By excluding those voices, the Fish and Wildlife Service is effectively cutting off public debate about the future of wolves in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest.
There is still much work to be done to ensure that wolves are able to return to western Colorado, northern California and Washington’s Olympic peninsula – places that have excellent habitat but no wolves. We need continued commitment from the federal government to ensure safe passage of wolves into these important areas. Now is not the time for the Obama administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, our nation’s chief wildlife stewards, to give up on wolf recovery before the job is finished.”
To show how much excellent wolf habitat is still unoccupied, we also launched our updated Places for Wolves report this week. This includes a blueprint for recovery that outlines general conservation strategies that apply nationwide as well as regional factsheets that provide specific recommendations for each part of the country. Read all the documents here.
While FWS did extend the public comment period until Oct. 28, we’re asking our supporters to request additional hearings in key states like Oregon, Washington and Colorado that will be directly affected by the proposed delisting rule. Once federal protections are removed, it might be nearly impossible for wolf populations to expand beyond their current range into some of the best remaining unoccupied habitat.
Wolves currently occupy about eight percent of the species historic range and only 36 percent of suitable habitat. Don’t let FWS and the Obama administration give up on wolf recovery before the job is finished!
DeFazio strikes back! – We’re not the only ones upset about the federal government’s attempts to abandon wolf recovery. Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon sent a sharply worded letter to Interior Sec. Sally Jewell this week asking her to maintain protections for gray wolves in places where they still have not recovered.
“I write to express my opposition to the proposed rule because it is not based on the best available science, undermines decades of conservation work done to protect the gray wolf, and sets a bad precedent for future ESA delistings. Moreover, the rule is neither consistent with the ESA nor Congress’ intent to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems on which they depend.”
Yellowstone wolves fill many roles – Wild wolves everywhere play an important ecological role in maintaining nature’s healthy balance. But wolves in Yellowstone also play an important scientific role for wolf biologists studying wolf behavior, as well as an economic role in supporting booming business in wolf tourism. Yellowstone wolves are prized by wolf watchers who come from all over the world for a glimpse of these magnificent creatures in the wild. A reporter from Bloomberg News recently went out with our friends at Wolves of Rockies to see for himself why Yellowstone wolves are so special. Read the story here and watch a short video.
Showin’ the love for lobos — Results from a poll conducted last month for Defenders by Tulchin Research showed overwhelming support for Mexican gray wolves in the Southwest. Just what do the numbers tell us? Here are some highlights:
- 87% of voters in both states agree that wolves are a vital part of our heritage.
- 8 in 10 voters agree that the FWS should make every effort to prevent extinction – which it is not currently doing.
- More than 7 in 10 voters in Arizona and nearly as many in New Mexico say that wolves should be restored to suitable habitat in the region.
Social and political affiliations did not sway voters – support for Mexican gray wolves in the region crossed party lines, genders and ages:
- The majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents in both states; 70% of men and 74% of women in AZ; 70% of men and 68% women in NM; at least 75% of ages 18-55 in both states; and at least 63% of 55+ in both states all support restoring wolves.
And, perhaps most telling of the public’s desire to see more Mexican wolves in the wild, over two-thirds (66% in AZ and 63% in NM) of voters agree with scientists that there are too few Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico and that we should reintroduce two additional populations needed for recovery.
Read more in “Polls Show Public is Pro-wolf.”