On Wednesday, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) sent a notice of intent to sue to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), due to the hunting of gray wolves in Wyoming’s Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. This National Forest straddles the border with Colorado.
CBD argues that the USFS has failed to consult with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on management of wolves, which they allege is required under the ESA. In this case, CBD claims that because wolves are protected in Colorado but migrate across the border to Wyoming, such wolves must be protected at all times, including when they’ve reached an area where wolves are delisted.
In short, argues CBD, a wolf that is protected in Colorado must be protected everywhere that wolf might travel. Because wolves are a highly migratory species at the individual level, this is is about as expansive a reading of the protections as possible, and could theoretically call into question any wolf hunting at all.
“This is another example where CBD and others will claim that wolf recovery in a given state or area is irrelevant so long as there is a population of wolves listed as threatened or endangered somewhere else,” said Todd Adkins, vice president of government affairs at the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “Their goal is to cancel hunters and hunting everywhere, so this bizarre legal argument they continue to peddle is extremely dangerous and goes well beyond wolves and wolf hunting.”
The Forest Service must respond to the notice by initiating a consultation with FWS and prohibit hunting or trapping of wolves in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest within 60 days (April 23, 2023), or the CBD is likely to follow-through on the threat and file suit.
“The Center for Biological Diversity is making tens of millions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers by abusing the Endangered Species Act,” continued Adkins. “There’s a reason they wanted to control wolf expansion into Colorado under the ESA, even though they were naturally migrating to the state—they’re going to try to tie wolf management in every state up in court using this population. And don’t forget, this is the same group pushing the government to introduce an experimental grizzly population in Washington state, which they will use to argue against the de-listing of any other recovered grizzly population.”