Federal judge restores critical protections for many gray wolves, ending states’ cruel and irresponsible management

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on February 11, 2022 with 15 Comments

Wolves across most of the continental United States must have Endangered Species Act protections restored, a federal judge ruled yesterday, effectively prohibiting trophy hunting of the species across most of the country.

This tremendous victory is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States and our allies immediately after delisting went into effect in 2021. It couldn’t be any more welcome or necessary. Last year was one of the worst for wolves in recent history. Lawmakers in Idaho and Montana enacted new legislation aimed at decimating wolf populations using cruel methods such as strangling neck snares. And in Wisconsin, a heartless and bloody trophy hunting season saw state-licensed hunters deploy packs of hounds and snowmobiles to slaughter more than 218 wolves in 60 hours—a death tally that would likely be repeated this fall if not for this legal decision.

As spring approaches, this year’s wolf pups in the Great Lakes states will emerge to a safer world where they can play and learn from their family members, instead of a world where wolf packs are torn apart by treacherous snares, bullets or dogs trained to track and kill.

Judge Jeffrey White’s 26-page opinion slammed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for dodging its legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act and ignoring the best available science. In particular, he faulted the agency’s dismissal of the importance of wolves, and the serious perils they face, outside the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies states—including nascent populations in Colorado and on the West Coast. The decision echoes what we’ve been arguing since this shortsighted delisting was first proposed in 2019: Wolves still need federal protection. They occupy only a fraction of their historic range, and their survival is still threatened by factors that range from climate change to loss of habitat to persecution by some trigger-happy state agencies and officials.

The decision grants wolves across most of the country a desperately needed reprieve, but there’s still work to be done. Wolves in the Northern Rockies states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming still lack federal protections. Emergency relisting is necessary to protect them from aggressive wolf-killing laws in those states. And with respect to wolves elsewhere, it’s clearer than ever that the federal government needs to change course. In case after case brought by the HSUS and our allies, attempts to prematurely strip wolves of Endangered Species Act protections have been struck down by courts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must abandon its serial, piecemeal approach to delisting this iconic American species and instead develop a long-overdue plan to recover the species nationwide. It’s not only what the law requires, but what Americans—75% of whom oppose trophy hunting of wolves—want.

You can take action for wolves in the Northern Rockies at humanesociety.org/protectnrmwolves.

The HSUS was represented in this case by Earthjustice and attorneys from the HSUS’s Animal Protection Law department.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. 

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

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  1. Lori Altman says:

    Too many wolves are slaughtered in cruel and ignorant ways. No animal should be treated this way.

  2. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Tenemos que aprender a respetar y a valorar la vida de los animalitos ya no podemos seguir abusando de ellos esto tiene que acabar

  3. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Es ist die einzig richtige Entscheidung. Wir brauchen mehr davon um das Leben und die Natur auf der Erde zu retten!!!!!!

  4. Robin Reyna says:

    Yes I would like to write something about the world they should be protected they’re not there to be slaughter they’re not there to be points others from the crow to them or hateful they’re there cuz they’re living creatures so bad because of the Lord for them is there something to be our companions but they’re there the show was compassion inside and what we can see and how we can open up a mind

  5. Karin Erker says:

    Das grauenhafte töten von hilflosen Tieren muss ein Ende haben. Stop was sind das für Menschen, die Tiere so quälen und töten …. stop das grauen endlich …

  6. Dawn Harrod says:

    Oppose trophy hunting

  7. Laura Wilson says:

    Yay!!! I’m extremely honored to be a small part of the Humane Society’s positive results and efforts, for all their endless, hard work, love and commitment to animals. Congratulations HSUS!!!!

  8. Cathrine Moriarty says:

    It’s an environmental fact that wolves are known to assist and maintain the growth of other species populations in the wilderness and state parks. Why not let Mother Nature do what it does on its own? It seems every time humans step in especially with killing a certain species, we go beyond what is necessary and destroy it entirely.

  9. brenda Kitts says:

    can you update me on the fur trade situation please

  10. Anne Haltunen Haltunen says:

    Pelastaka eläimet ❤❤❤❤

  11. Ashley Swinney says:

    Stop them!

  12. Pat Kingsbury says:

    Thrilled to the core!

  13. Kelsey Brodt says:

    We need the protections of wolves restored to maintain healthy ecosystems. The rights of nature are not below our because we are apart of nature.

  14. Emily Oikonomopoulou says:

    Oppose trophy hunting! Stop it now!

  15. Sharon Meyers says:

    What is wrong with the human race? I no it’s not everyone but things are getting worse. Is there no compassion left. All animals serve a purpose just like the human race. Let’s tend to more important things which is desperately needed.

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