Close to two million Americans stated their opposition to the Trump administration’s plan to remove endangered species protection of gray wolves in a comment period that closed yesterday.
This is one of the largest numbers of comments ever submitted on a federal decision involving endangered species and reflects broad dissatisfaction with the Trump administration’s politically driven move to turn wolf management over to state agencies across most of the lower 48 states.
“The incredible volume of comments give voice to a sad fact: the delisting proposal is a radical departure from the optimism and courage we need to promote endangered species recovery in this country,” Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark said in statement. “The comments reflect that Americans believe the Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal falls well short of the conservation ideals this country stood for 45 years ago when the Endangered Species Act was signed.”
In addition to the 1.8 million comments submitted by the public, 86 members of Congress, 100 scientists, 230 businesses, and 367 veterinary professionals all submitted letters to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing the wolf delisting plan. Even the scientific peer reviews written at the behest of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state that the agency’s proposal contains numerous errors and appears to come to a predetermined conclusion, not even supported by its own science, to remove federal protections for wolves.
While there were once hundreds of thousands of wolves in the lower 48 states, now there are only an estimated 5,500 currently living in the continental United States; a fraction of the species’ historic numbers.
The Trump administration’s proposal would remove existing protections for gray wolves everywhere in the lower 48 states except Arizona and New Mexico, where the Mexican wolf is struggling to survive with an estimated population of only 131 wolves. This proposal would abandon protections for wolves in places where wolf recovery is just in its infancy, such as California, Oregon and Washington, and would prevent wolves from recovering in other places where positive wolf habitat has been identified, including the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast.
“From California and Nevada to Colorado, vast stretches of public land are perfectly suited for wolf recovery, yet the howl of the wolf remains tragically absent from most of the West,” stated Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist and executive director of Western Watersheds Project. “The nationwide de-listing rule represents an extinction plan on behalf of a handful of public land profiteers, at the expense of restoring healthy native ecosystems that will benefit all Americans.”