Gray Wolves will not have Endangered Species Act protections

Wolf Population Idaho
Posted at 12:50 PM, Feb 02, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gray Wolves will not be re-listed in the Northern Rocky Mountains under the Endangered Species Act.

That decision was announced Friday morning by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service despite pleas from the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club.

The Service conducted an which found that wolves are not at risk of extinction in the Western United States.

Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a path to support a long-term and durable approach to the conservation of gray wolves, to include a process to develop – for the first time – a National Recovery Plan under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

The decision was followed by disapproval by some organizations.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to stand by and do nothing while wolves in Northern Rockies states are pushed to the brink of extinction once again is reprehensible. The agency is essentially turning their backs on wolves,” said Nicholas Arrivo, managing attorney for wildlife at the Humane Society of the United States. “We stand ready to continue fighting for this critically important and valuable species.”

“I’m incredibly disappointed that the Fish and Wildlife Service is turning a blind eye to the cruel, aggressive wolf-killing laws in Montana and Idaho,” said Kristine Akland, northern Rockies program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “By denying protections to these beautiful creatures the Service is letting northern Rockies states continue erasing decades of recovery efforts.”

Gray wolves are listed under the ESA as endangered in 44 states, threatened in Minnesota, and under state jurisdiction in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and portions of eastern Oregon and Washington. Based on the latest data as of the end of 2022, there were approximately 2,797 wolves distributed across at least 286 packs in seven states in the Western United States. This population size and widespread distribution contribute to the resiliency and redundancy of wolves in this region. The population maintains high genetic diversity and connectivity, further supporting their ability to adapt to future changes.

You can follow updates on gray wolf recovery here.