A federal judge on Thursday restored Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across much of the contiguous United States, concluding that the Trump administration ignored ongoing threats to smaller, more isolated wolf populations when it stripped the species of protections in 2020.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s ruling marks a major win for environmental and animal rights groups in their battle with the federal government over whether wolves still need ESA protections.
“This is a huge day for wolves across the country,” said Andrea Zaccardi, a lawyer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to remove federal protections several times over the past decade, and every time they skirt the law in doing it.”
The ruling redesignates gray wolves as a threatened species in 44 states and strips those states of their ability to manage local wolf populations through hunting and trapping. The relisting applies to the Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin.
“Today’s ruling restoring much-needed federal protections means that wolves will have a chance to fully recover and carry out their important ecological and cultural roles across the country,” Bonnie Rice, a senior representative of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
The ruling does not affect wolves in the Northern Rockies, including Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, which Congress removed from the ESA in 2011.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NPR