Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 17, 2016

Contact:  Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,
Chloe Detrick, The Humane Society of the United States, (202) 658-9091,

Federal Appeals Court to Consider Future of Endangered Species Act
Protections for Wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan

WASHINGTON The Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments Tuesday on whether wolves living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan should remain protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Wildlife advocacy groups, led by The Humane Society of the United States, are defending their 2014 legal victory that returned Endangered Species Act protections to wolves in the Great Lakes region after the court found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated and misinterpreted the Act.

Gray wolf
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Retron. This photo is available for media use.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s piecemeal approach — attempting to eliminate protections for isolated wolf populations found in a tiny fraction of their historic range —  has been repeatedly overturned by the federal courts,” said Ralph Henry, director of animal protection litigation at The Humane Society of the United States, who will be representing the wildlife groups. “The federal government cannot abandon its duty to ensure wolf recovery. Its politically motivated effort to turn wolf management over to states, intent on immediately and dramatically reducing wolf populations through trophy-hunting and trapping, should again be rejected.”

The appeal, brought by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the states of Wisconsin and Michigan, seeks to reverse a 2014 district court decision that reinstated wolf protections. The district court judge stated that the Service’s decision was “no more valid than the agency’s three prior attempts to remove federal protections for a population of gray wolves” and that sometimes a “court must lean forward from the bench to let an agency know, in no uncertain terms, that enough is enough.” The Center for Biological Diversity filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of wolf protections.

Several bills before Congress would sidestep the Endangered Species Act and preempt the current appeal process to permanently end federal protections for gray wolves in the Great Lakes, as well as Wyoming. Anti-wolf provisions are included as so-called “poison-pill” amendments to appropriations bills that must be passed by December to approve ongoing funding of the federal government. A similar rider was included in a 2011 appropriations bill that stripped protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho and has so far resulted in the death of more than 2,600 wolves under state management.

“Whether wolves still need federal protection is a scientific and legal question that should be reviewed by the courts,” said Collette Adkins, a Center attorney and biologist. “Americans are outraged at the backdoor attempts by politicians to weaken the Endangered Species Act and bypass our rights as concerned citizens to challenge unlawful government decisions. Without federal protection, hundreds of wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan will once again suffer and die every year.”

Tuesday’s hearing, before circuit judges Griffith, Millett and Pillard, will be at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 31, E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, 333 Constitution Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. The hearing is open to the public. Attorneys from The Humane Society of the United States and the Center will be available after the hearing to discuss the case.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated most effective by our peers. For 60 years, we have celebrated the protection of all animals and confronted all forms of cruelty. We are the nation’s largest provider of hands-on services for animals, caring for more than 100,000 animals each year, and we prevent cruelty to millions more through our advocacy campaigns. Read more about our 60 years of transformational change for animals and people, and visit us online at

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