Public Employees Sue Over ‘Political Deals’ Behind Wolf Delisting

From the Environment News Service:

WASHINGTON, DC, May 22, 2013 (ENS) – The Obama Administration’s plan to remove the gray wolf from the protections of the Endangered Species Act, as detailed in a draft Federal Register notice released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER, is temporarily on hold.

The reasons for the indefinite delay announced this week were not revealed nor were the records of closed-door meetings to craft this plan that began in August 2010.

Today a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain the records from those meetings was filed by PEER, a nonprofit national alliance of local, state and federal resource professionals.

The draft Federal Register notice would strike the gray wolf from the federal list of threatened or endangered species but would keep endangered status for the Mexican wolf. No protected habitat would be delineated for the Mexican wolf, of which fewer than 100 remain in the wild.

This step is the culmination of what officials call their National Wolf Strategy, developed in a series of federal-state meetings called Structured Decision Making, SDM. Tribal representatives declined to participate.

On April 30, 2012, PEER submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for all SDM meeting notes, handouts and decision documents. More than a year later, the agency has not produced any of the requested records, despite a legal requirement that the records be produced within 20 working days.

Today, PEER filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to obtain all of the SDM documents.

Click here to read the full story.

4 thoughts on “Public Employees Sue Over ‘Political Deals’ Behind Wolf Delisting”

  1. That is amazing… below are a couple of quotes from the link..

    “By law, Endangered Species Act decisions are supposed to be governed by the best available science, not the best available deal,” said PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to a letter from the nation’s leading wolf researchers challenging the scientific basis for the de-listing plan.”


    “The gray wolf has barely begun to recover or is absent from significant portions of its former range where substantial suitable habitat remains. The Service’s draft rule fails to consider science identifying extensive suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast. It also fails to consider the importance of these areas to the long-term survival and recovery of wolves, or the importance of wolves to the ecosystems of these regions,” the scientists wrote.

    “The extirpation of wolves and large carnivores from large portions of the landscape is a global phenomenon with broad ecological consequences,” the scientists wrote. “There is a growing body of scientific literature demonstrating that top predators play critical roles in maintaining a diversity of other wildlife species and as such the composition and function of ecosystems. Research in Yellowstone National Park, for example, found that reintroduction of wolves caused changes in elk numbers and behavior which then facilitated recovery of streamside vegetation, benefitting beavers, fish and songbirds. In this and other ways, wolves shape North American landscapes.”

    However, as we recently the Calgary study here.…..

    “Our results contrast with research conducted in protected areas that suggested food chains are primarily regulated by predators. Rather, we found that humans influenced other species in the food chain in a number of direct and indirect ways, thus overshadowing top-down and bottom-up effects,” said lead author Dr. Tyler Muhly.”

    Where, oh, where is “the best” science…?

    Let’s see, people who study wolves think that they have critical ecological roles…and need to be everywhere in North America again. Could there be some kind of correlation there? I

    Now I have nothing against wolves; but I think any “science” that would lead to a specific policy recommendation should be debated in the public sphere..

    PS our own former blogger Martin Nie wrote an excellent book about wolves and the different ways of approaching them in the SW, Rockies and Lake States called “Beyond Wolves”. Here is a link.

  2. Ah, the great “North American Wildlife Model of Conservation.” “Sportsmen” bring it up when it supports their agenda, and “Sportsmen” and many of these political “Sportsmen’s” groups ignore it when it doesn’t support their agenda.

    I mean, I’d love to see the “science” of the “North American Wildlife Model of Conservation” which supports the Montana Fish Wildlife & Park’s proposal to allow hunters and trappers in Montana to shoot/trap 5 wolves a year. 5 wolves a year people…out of a total statewide wolf population of about 1,000 animals! Would Montana be handing out 5 over-the-counter wolf tags to every hunter in the state if we had 1,000 elk? Montana actually has 150,000 elk, but those 1,000 wolves have eaten ’em all, right?

    Or how about the “science” behind MTFWP’s plan which allows a rifle-hunting season on wolves that lasts for 6 1/2 months, including across all public lands?

    Or the MTFWP’s plan which allows hunters with rifles to use electronic wolf calls to lure wolves in (electronic calls are illegal to use hunting elk and deer).

    Ah, yes, the great “North American Wildlife Model of Conservation.” Count me as one backcountry elk and deer hunter who just laughs every time I see and hear the hypocrisy and completely inconsistant application of this “North American Wildlife Model of Conservation.”

  3. Under ESA there is a statutory substantive outcome of recovered species, and the law requires a rulemaking process that includes public comments and an administrative record. The science used to demonstrate compliance with the law can be debated in a public forum.

    This video was about values, not science (would be great for a political science class). I tend to think that before the politicians turn something over to administrators, they need to articulate the ‘desired’ outcomes – some guidance on how many wolves are ‘enough,’ or what killing methods/circumstances are ‘appropriate.’ The quoted terms can be informed by science but are they depend on a lot of other things.

    I did hear the game department spokesperson suggest there could be more wolves under this model. Maybe they should start with that idea.


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