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.

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