Breaking news: The U.S. just delisted gray wolves so trophy hunters can kill them

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on October 29, 2020 with 34 Comments

In a heinous move that defies both science and common sense, the United States has prematurely lifted federal protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states, giving them carte blanche to open trophy hunting seasons on these beloved native carnivores.

The Department of the Interior bulldozed this rule through despite the fact that nearly two million Americans left comments to register their opposition to it after it was proposed last year. But the agency, so beholden to trophy hunters in recent years, has clearly decided to ignore the American public. We are putting the Department of the Interior on alert today that we and our partners will challenge this rule in court to get these protections restored, as we have successfully done in the past.

Wolves were first given Endangered Species Act protections in 1974 after activities like trophy hunting and trapping, along with other manmade causes like habitat loss, led to dangerous drops in their populations around the country. Today they can only be found in only about 15% of their historic range in the contiguous United States. Scientists warn that delisting gray wolves now, when they ​still face threats to their survival, is sure to cause irreversible damage.

If states begin to open trophy hunting seasons on wolves, we don’t have to guess how bad the carnage is likely to get; we have already witnessed it in the handful of states where wolves have been delisted over the past decade. In 2011, Congress directed the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to remove ESA protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho as a nod to agricultural and trophy hunting interests, and wolves in Wyoming lost their federal ESA protections in 2017. Since then, thousands of wolves have been massacred in these states. Even pups aren’t safe. This year, in Idaho, at least 35 pups, some as young as four to six weeks old, have been killed by trophy hunters, trappers, and state and federal agency personnel.

The killing has increased as these states have continued to relax their rules year after year. Idaho increased the number of wolves a single person can kill to 30, and expanded its wolf hunting season to last year-round in the southwestern and south central parts of the state and 11 months out of the year in the rest of the state. In Wyoming, wolves can be shot on sight in 85% of the state.

With their protections gone, wolves are likely to be most persecuted in areas where their populations are already fragile, like the Great Lakes region. When wolves there briefly lost their federal ESA protections in late 2011, nearly 1,500 were killed in just three seasons—including hundreds of pups. The killing would have continued but for a successful Humane Society of the United States lawsuit that returned wolves in this region to the endangered species list in 2014. In Wisconsin and Michigan, the wheels have already been set in motion to authorize trophy hunts despite overwhelming public opposition, and Minnesota could be close behind.

The trophy hunting of wolves is not simply a conservation problem; it is also a major animal welfare problem. This is unnecessary killing just for a head or hide on the wall and bragging rights, and it often involves immense animal cruelty. In the states that now allow wolf trophy hunting, the animals are routinely chased down by GPS-collared hounds, caught in painful, steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares, and even run down with snowmobiles or large trucks.

Those who want to trophy-hunt wolves, and wildlife officials who are in their pockets, hold out the lie that wolves are a threat to cattle. But, in fact, federal data show that such conflicts are extremely rare. On the other hand, killing wolves, if anything, can make matters worse. These are highly social and family-oriented animals who pair for life and raise their pups within stable family units. Trophy hunting adult wolves increases the likelihood of orphaned young animals left behind getting into conflicts when hungry.

By its action today to delist wolves, the Department of the Interior has moved to undo years of recovery and progress that so many conservationists, scientists and animal protection groups have worked so hard for. But worse, it has allowed trophy hunters to once again hijack U.S. wildlife policy at great cost to our native carnivores. The agency should know that this fight is far from over. We have won the battle to protect America’s wolves before, and we will not give up until federal protections are restored and wolves once again get a fair chance to survive and thrive across our country.

Raise your voice against trophy hunting in your own community by downloading our newly launched toolkit.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Es increíble En qué mundo estamos viviendo permitir la matanza de animalitos que no nos hacen ningún dañopor favor esto tiene que acabar ya no podemos permitir que más animalitos sigan siendo asesinados solamente por diversión

  2. Buzzy says:

    Who should we appeal to? Our senators, representatives? Who? Btw, i think i heard this was apolitical move authored by the thief in the WH. Maybe Biden will be more sympatico about not allowing “trophy hunters”, aka, satan’s emissaries, to kill animals for fun. Imagine! Fingers, eyes, arms, legs, etc., crossed.

    • Wolf Mother says:

      I doubt biden will do anything since it wax in 2011 during the obama/biden administration that they removed protection.

  3. Becky Anthony says:

    There is no reason to put these beautiful animals in a position to be killed. It’s completely disgusting. We are better than this.

    • Lisa says:

      I would love to donate to wildlife. For the wolfs grey . The governments trying to they’re trying to kill off the gray wolves and that’s just terrible can somebody please send me an address or something to the wildlife so I can at least write them to and donate .I would like to see them saved

  4. Connie Clark says:

    Actually what is the purpose of killing these can you eat them? I don’t think so so why don’t you leave well enough alone so sad that people don’t have nothing else to do. You put them over here how many years ago because we needed them and now you want to take them away. If you don’t eat something then you should not kill it. I think there’s other things in life that you could work on other than worrying about the wolves use your brain.

  5. Dustin W says:

    Imagine not understanding that wolves are already being hunted, in states like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, as part of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. And not understanding that those “trophy hunters” are the same group that has insured a healthy population of all other wildlife game, the same game the wolves live off of. We’re not trophy hunters, we’re heroes. You’re welcome.

  6. Terri Mancini says:

    There is no good reason for this decision. I don’t support my tax dollars being used for such a heinous sport.

  7. Donna says:

    Are you freaking kidding me. What planet do you guys live on why are you moving backwards. You have an obligation to protect not remove species from the planet. All people that vited this should he fired. Do thr right thing fix this.

  8. Anne Pritchard says:

    What a sick and cruel world it has become!!!!! Humans ugh!!

  9. Vera Fendlay says:

    So sick of humans thinking they have the right to kill innocent wildlife. Nothing gives humans the right to do these evil acts. Most human’s are the DEVIL IN DISGUISE..Control ur population people.WAY TO MANY HUMANS NOT ENOUGH EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Stephen Bosworth says:

      You are so right. One way of discouraging this useless and cruel slaughtering of these beautiful creatures who pose NO danger to humans, is to determine where these wolf hunters will go to set up their kill zones, and simply take them out. As a Marine Corps sniper in Vietnam, I was trained to shoot individuals from a very long distance. I have not lost my skills, and when wolves start getting shot and killed, I will gladly use my “expertise” and take some “trophies” of my own! Just remember. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So to all the wolf hunters you had better watch “your 6” at ALL times!

  10. Lucia Opet says:


    • Nancy Dunlap says:

      I am so glad to see that most people here feel the same way I do about wolves. We live in a sick world where the governor of a state would approve SB 1211. Wolves can be hunted by cars, snowmobiles, using dogs, baiting,, trapping, spotlighting, and hunters can kill as many wolves as they want. What a bunch of sick monsters theses cowards are. What a disgrace the politicians of Idaho are to allow such cruelty!

  11. Shelley McDonald says:

    So wrong !!!!!

  12. Diana Garmon says:

    What are people thinking. First you kill off all the wolves. Then you reintroduce them and they balance out nature. Now you want to kill them off again. This is just wrong.

  13. Luna says:

    This is the most selfish thing people can do to endangered species when they should not be taking off the endangered species list. This is an disgraceful thing a selfish and uncaring person can do to these poor wolves. The wolves don’t deserve to be hunted or kill by selfish and uncaring people. Leave those poor creatures alone. Anyone who are hunters should leave those poor creatures alone. Any animal on the endangered species list should stay on the list and should not be taken off the list. This decision to let hunters hunt endangered species is a terrible and horrible mistake and should not be allow to happen. People needs to leave the poor wolves alone. Stop hunting and killing poor endangered species they deserve to be left alone.

  14. Julie Barnard says:

    This needs to be stopped!!!

  15. M Reaper says:

    I cannot believe an educated modern society would agree to allow this to happen in the 21st century. We have evolved and moved on from hunter gatherers….it beggars believe that some in our society condone hunting as a sport. If they used the tools of genuine age old hunters then perhaps it could be understood but to use highly sophisticated modern weapons against animals….is abhorrent!

    • Jamie Barber says:

      I’m sick. Wolves aren’t hunting animals considering the age we are living in, there is absolutely no reason to wipe out Mother Nature for SPORT there is no humanity here. None

  16. Nancy Porcino says:

    This is horrific! There is no need to set out and murder these beautiful animals and their families! Please get this resolved ASAP!!!

  17. Janna Fazlutdinova says:

    Protect the wolves !!!!

  18. Judi Bostic says:

    There is no reason to take the wolves off the in danger species act, to be a target for hunters. Wolves are beautiful animals who deserve to live in peace and not to be stuffed in someone’s home.

  19. carolyn mcdonald says:

    This is shocking * should be URGENTLY REMINDED STOP THIS URGENTLY!

  20. Karen Rapp says:

    This must be reversed

  21. Erin Fowler says:

    I can’t believe you would do this & allow them to be killed by these heartless people
    Please reconsider their protection

  22. C. Leslie says:

    Please, no more! Stop the senseless killing.

  23. Ash Rohmen says:

    Don’t they remember what happened when they took wolves out of Yellowstone? The rest of the animals repopulated so much it through everything out of balance, now they want to decrease them? I’m sorry but maybe they should worry more about the White Tailed Deer overpopulation problem or the Wild Hogs!

  24. Candace Colby says:

    Wolves are an important part of the ecosystem – we should never be killing predators. There are humane ways to protect domestic animals, most of which should not be using our public lands anyway. This needs to be stopped!

  25. Daniel Overton says:

    Your title makes it sound like the reason they’ve been delisted is solely for trophy hunters to kill them. That’s pretty far off…

    The species has made a comeback and now should be managed for conservation purposes. When too many wolves, that you are not allowed to kill, begin to over populate, means problems for farms with livestock, endangering other wildlife populations, and harsh competition for hunters gathering their own food. Just a few valid points.

  26. Anti wolves killer says:

    WTF. IM SO MAD!!! Being a native of New Mexico (Albuquerque) , wolves are apart of us. Yes they hunt our furry friends but they are only surviving.. These creatures are so beautiful. All dogs descend from them. I cant even look at my dogs right now cause I cant even imagine them getting slaughtered for a freaking aluminum piece of junk . You got to be kidding me right? Native Americans believe these animals are so sacred. We should be after the Kkk instead of wolves. Just thinking out loud Come on really… hopefully Biden changes this.

  27. Janice dixon says:

    All animals are GODs creatures so leave them alone or burn in HELL for eternity and that is a promise from GOD.

  28. Foxote says:

    STOP KILLING WOLVES YOU STUPID IDIOTS!!!!!!! Wolves have lives, families, feelings and more. There is absolutely NO reason to be killing these poor innocent creatures! Without wolves, it will lead to overpopulation of other animals such as deer and other herbivores, they would eat all the plants and there would be no more food which would lead to extinction. Predators are the real ecosystem managers, not humans. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO KILL ANIMALS UNLESS IT’S FOOD OR TO PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY, OR YOUR ANIMALS!!!!!! DON’T KILL ANIMALS FOR STUPID REASONS SUCH AS SPORT, TROPHIES, FURS, SKINS, BODY PARTS, MONEY AND FOR REASONS OTHER THAN FOOD!!!!!! JUST STOP KILLING THEM ALREADY, YOU STUPID IDIOTS!!!!!!

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