For Immediate Release, November 22, 2013
Contact: Amaroq Weiss, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 779-9613
Advocates to Obama Administration: Don't Abandon Wolf Recovery
Federal Proposal Would Halt Wolf Recovery on West Coast, Across Country
SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Hundreds of wolf supporters are expected to show up in force this evening in Sacramento at a hearing — one of only five scheduled nationwide — held by the Obama administration to take public comments on its proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. The hearing will be preceded by a late afternoon rally with multiple speakers, banners and other visuals.
“Wolves deserve a real future in California and the lower 48 states, and it’s amazing to see so many Americans speaking out on their behalf,” said Amaroq Weiss, West Coast wolf organizer with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shouldn’t be walking away from 40 years of wolf recovery when the job isn’t even close to finished.”
Hundreds spoke in favor of wolf protections at hearings earlier this week in Denver and Albuquerque, N.M., and thousands of people around the country have submitted comments opposing plans to strip away federal safeguards.
The gray wolf was protected in 1967 under a precursor to the federal Endangered Species Act and was fully protected by the Act after its passage in 1973. This spurred recovery actions by the Fish and Wildlife Service in limited parts of the country. Today there are approximately 5,500 wolves in the lower 48 — less than a fraction of a percent of their former numbers. They occur in only about 5 percent of their former range.
Scientists have identified hundreds of thousands of square miles of suitable yet-to-be-occupied wolf habitat — including in California, where a wolf arrived in 2011 for the first time in nearly nine decades — and have called for more recovery efforts to ensure wolf populations will be sustainable into the long-term future.
Instead, federal protections have been lifted for wolves in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes regions, and the Fish and Wildlife Service is now proposing to strip wolves of federal protections nearly everywhere else across the lower 48.
In states where federal delisting has already occurred, aggressive state-sanctioned hunting and trapping seasons have resulted in more than 2,200 wolves being killed and significant population declines. Rather than building public tolerance for the species, state management methods are encouraging anti-wolf sentiment. Photos of bloody, dead wolves strapped to truck roof-racks or held aloft by gangs of white-hooded men waving flags are flooding social networking sites.
“Ending wolf protections across the lower 48 will mean more dead wolves, and will extinguish recovery in California, the southern Rockies, the Northeast and other areas where wolf habitat still exists,” said Weiss. “It’s time for the Obama administration to live up to the commitment America made 40 years ago to protect wolves and truly recover them.”
The pre-hearing street rally takes place today at 4 p.m., at 1782 Tribute Road in Sacramento, with featured speakers that include Weiss, who has been working on the forefront of wolf recovery for 17 years. Following the rally the hearing will start at 6 p.m., in the Golden State Ballroom of the Marriott Courtyard Cal Expo Hotel at 1782 Tribute Road.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.