How will this affect the wolves of the Northern Rockies? RM

Press Release.
Humane Society of the United States
Center for Biological Diversity

Court-ordered Settlement Restores Endangered Species Act Protections to Great Lakes Wolves

– – – – – – –

Update:
Great Lakes wolves returning to endangered list
By JOHN FLESHER
Associated Press

Update, July 1, 2009
Statement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Service Will Provide Additional Opportunity for Public Comment

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the Service’s 2009 rule removing Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes. Under the terms of the agreement, which must still be approved by the court, the Service will provide an additional opportunity for public comment on the rule to ensure compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

Gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area have exceeded recovery goals and continue to thrive under state management. However, the Service agrees with plaintiffs that additional public review and comment was required under federal law prior to making that final decision.

Upon acceptance of this agreement by the court, and while the Service gathers additional public comment, gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes area will again be protected under the Endangered Species Act. All restrictions and requirements in place under the Act prior to the delisting will be reinstated. In Minnesota, gray wolves will be considered threatened; elsewhere in the region, gray wolves will be designated as endangered. The Service will continue to work with states and tribes to address wolf management issues while Western Great Lakes gray wolves remain under the protection of the Act.

This settlement agreement does not affect the status of gray wolves in other parts of the United States.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

22 Responses to Court-ordered Settlement Restores Endangered Species Act Protections to Great Lakes Wolves

  1. avatar Save bears says:

    Here we go again……

  2. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    With the large populations and suitable habitat filled how do they figure this population is still endangered? The next places for them to go is the cornfields in the southern parts of the states. This is what keeps other states from wanting to reintroduce wolves.

  3. ProWolf,

    This decision really surprised me given that the Great Lakes wolves have been treated with “kids gloves” compared to those where we live.

    However, it seems the case turned on a technicality (no public hearings). I would hazard a guess that the Obama Administration, if it is inclined, could easily correct this and then delist.

    This easy legal attack on delisting, however, encourages me about the likely success of the lawsuit on the Idaho/Montana/Wyoming wolves.

  4. avatar Maska says:

    The really interesting thing is that the new administration was willing to settle, rather than get slapped down in court. We’ll have to see how that plays out in other cases.

  5. avatar JB says:

    “The really interesting thing is that the new administration was willing to settle, rather than get slapped down in court.”

    I think they had to. Fighting things out in court would have sent a clear signal that they aren’t interested in following the law, but continuing the policies of the Bush Administration. Obama can afford to be naive about environmental issues, but he can’t afford to be outwardly hostile.

  6. avatar Ryan says:

    Why was this shot down? Looking at the list of Plaintiffs, it looked like a list of animal rights organizations.

    Ever wonder why Hunters think its a conspiracy? With groups like this filing Frivilous Lawsuits, how is it hard not to wonder.

  7. avatar Save bears says:

    It was shot down because USFWS failed to hold another comment period!

  8. Ryan,

    What is significant about this is that the major conservation groups did not become part of the lawsuit (unlike the Western wolf lawsuit where they are the plaintiffs).

    It seems to me that no matter what kind of lawsuit, if you win, then by definition your arguments are not frivolous. You might have been politically unwise to sue, but the suit itself impressed the judge(s) enough to hand you a victory.

  9. avatar Save bears says:

    Ralph,

    I would take a small exception they did not win this lawsuit, it was a settlement, the USFWS admitted they made a mistake and settled and from my understanding will be again pursuing the de-listing with the comment period required by law..I don’t consider it a win, but just a bump in the road, because somebody didn’t dot their “i’s” and cross their “t’s” It may be a court ordered settlement, but without both parties agreeing their was a mistake, it would have gone the full ride….and the court would have decided…

  10. Save Bears,

    You are right that this was not a formally won lawsuit.

    Time and expense can often been saved if a settlement of a case is reached without going through the whole process.

    I have a hard time grasping the implications of this so far because none of the major groups have sent out email or anything.

  11. avatar Maska says:

    Actually, the Center for Biological Diversity did put out both a press release and an e-mail to contributors. Here’s the link to the press release:

    http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2009/wolves-06-29-2009.html

  12. avatar Save bears says:

    I am quite surprised they placed them back on the list, there is sound science in the Midwestern wolves to de-list them, which might be the reason the major conservation group have not spoke up on this one, of course you never know what is in the mind of the lawyers..it will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I suspect their will be another attempt to de-list this population within 120 days, I see a 60 day comment period and then de-listing again.

  13. avatar chris says:

    The plaintiff’s motives are why more conservation groups were not involved and are not commenting now. The HSUS doesn’t want wolves (or anything else) to be hunted and the CBD wants these wolves to stay listed to force recovery elsewhere (the northeast).

  14. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    whether or not the Great Lakes wolves merit delisting biologically is one question. Whether it is merited legally is another. Both standards need to be fulfilled for the ESA to maintain its integrity – obviously the suggestion that the Great Lakes wolves did NOT merit delisting legally this time around has been vindicated.

  15. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Chris, what do you mean by the CBD? Also, have there been many feasibility studies on suitable habitat in the northeastern United States? While I am for reintroducing species wherever there is suitable habitat, it seems like such a small area to restore wolves.

  16. avatar Ryan says:

    “Great Lakes wolves did NOT merit delisting legally this time around has been vindicated.”

    Please expand on that, from what I have read, just the opposite is true. This is nothing more than an Animal rights anti hunting ploy as far as I’m concerned.

  17. avatar Save bears says:

    Ryan,

    Simply put, they found a loophole.. it happens all the time in the legal system..they have some very good lawyers on their side…

  18. avatar otto says:

    The public comment requirements under the Administrative Procedures Act, the law noted in the press release, are not “frivolous” or a “loophole” rather a key component of the federal lands management scheme. These are public lands, public resources, and public officials making decisions. But only through the public comment requirements do we, the public, have a say in these decisions. Whether you take the side of wolves, hunters, offroaders, or wilderness enforcing the existing laws and regulations concerning legally required public comment is an important tool–and right–for all sides.

    If the size and health of the population and the State management plans are as good as the press release claims then a proper de-listing should not be very hard. Looking the other way when federal laws are violated, or belittling others for ensuring these laws are uniformly enforced, is bad policy for anyone who uses our public lands.

  19. avatar Barb Rupers says:

    Well spoken, Otto. Thanks.

  20. avatar Save bears says:

    Otto,

    I didn’t see anyone “belittling” anyone, it is pretty amazing how people read something into a post that is really not there..being a person that works for the goal of real conservation of wild areas and wildlife, I agree the public comment process is very important and I use it on every issue that is important to me.

  21. avatar chris says:

    ProWolf,
    CBD= Center for Biological Diversity. I’m not aware of any completed feasibility studies but the 1992 Eastern Timber Wolf Recovery Plan listed New York’s Adirondacks and Maine’s North Woods as potential sites. There are plenty of deer and moose in those spots, but unfortunately most of the land is privately or state owned.

  22. avatar otto says:

    SaveBears wrote: “I don’t consider it a win, but just a bump in the road, because somebody didn’t dot their “i’s” and cross their “t’s,” and then “you never know what is in the mind of the lawyers.”

    Ryan wrote: “Ever wonder why Hunters think its a conspiracy? With groups like this filing Frivilous Lawsuits, how is it hard not to wonder.”

    SaveBears wrote in response: “Simply put, they found a loophole” and “they have some very good lawyers on their side.”

    These comments read as though they are critical of both the lawsuit and the result. If you,SaveBears, claim to think that the public comment process is important and useful why would you label it a “loophole,” a term with a clear negative connotation, and the settlement a “bump in the road” brought on by nitpicky formalism like doting i’s? This reasoning implies you see this lawsuit and settlement as merely obstructionism instead of substantive advocacy.

    Characterizing groups that are enforcing existing federal laws as dealing in loopholes and frivolity is belittling to the hard work involved. If the agencies do not see that groups are watching over their attempts to cut the public out of the decision making the public comment process will not be available, SaveBears, to “use on every issue that is important to me.”

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