In an exciting and hard-fought victory for wildlife advocates, Judge Donald Molloy has ruled that Northern Rockies wolves must be returned to the endangered species list. This ruling in our favor, the latest in a long saga of legal battles, restores critical Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
NRDC and 13 other conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, sued the federal government last June for removing wolves from the endangered species list before their population was fully recovered.
Judge Molloy’s opinion clearly states that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service acted illegally when it removed wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana but left them on the list in Wyoming, splitting the population along political, rather than biological, lines. Judge Molloy wrote, “The Endangered Species Act does not allow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list only part of a ‘species’ as endangered.”
The ruling sends a clear message that it is time to take a fresh look at the outdated wolf recovery goals, update the science and recovery standards, and come up with a plan that ensures the recovery of wolves in the Northern Rockies over the long term.
After being eradicated from the region by the 1930s, wolves were absent from the Northern Rockies for most of the twentieth century; we want to see their remarkable recovery since the mid-1990s continue.
It’s time to develop a legitimate recovery plan for Northern Rockies wolves.