Your National Rifle Association (NRA) has joined Safari Club International (SCI) and 22 other conservation organizations, representing millions of sportsmen and women across the country, in a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. These organizations “respectfully request that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) appeal the February 10, 2022, decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California vacating the 2020 rule removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) lists of endangered and threatened species.”
In early 2020, the Service removed gray wolves in the lower 48 U.S. States from the ESA lists. Of course, anti-hunting groups immediately sued to put wolves back under the ESA. Although these groups acknowledged that some populations of gray wolves have recovered, they sought to force the Service to restore wolves everywhere—from Maine to Washington State. Your NRA, along with SCI, intervened in these suits to defend the Service’s science-based delisting rule. Unfortunately, a federal court in the Northern District of California largely ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor. It is now up to the Service to appeal this decision.
Gray Wolf populations have been increasing the last 20 years and demonstrate an ESA success story. Now that the gray wolf is in no way endangered, it is time for the Service to allocate funding to other much more vulnerable species.
The best available science supports the delisting of the gray wolf, and the decision in California prevents species from being delisted even when they have fully recovered. Additionally, removal from the Endangered Species List simply means that federal resources are not used for conservation, and that management is returned to state agencies—which they are fully capable of in the case of the gray wolf.
The Department of the Interior and Secretary Haaland have a responsibility to stand on the side of science, management, and proven conservation strategies. They should not listen to misguided animal-rights groups, which aim to have the gray wolf “endangered” in perpetuity. We look forward to Secretary Haaland’s response and will continue to stand on the side of science, conservation, and hunters.