Action timeline

January 4, 1974 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed gray wolves as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

April 1, 2003 – The Service issued a final rule to reclassify and reduce federal protections for northern Rockies gray wolves.

January 31, 2005 – Ending a suit brought by the Center and allies, a federal judge overturned the Service's 2003 downlisting of the wolves.

June 25, 2007 – The Center and Western Watersheds Project filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for failing to assess the ecological impact of a federal sheep-grazing station in Montana and Idaho west of Yellowstone National Park. The USDA Sheep Experiment Station grazes more than 6,000 sheep on more than 100,000 acres of public land, threatening the habitat of northern Rockies gray wolves and other imperiled native species.

January 28, 2008 – Seven conservation organizations, including the Center, sued the Service for adopting a rule allowing the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana to kill up to half of the Rocky Mountain wolf population.

February 19, 2008 – The Center's case against the Department of Agriculture was settled when the Department agreed to assess the ecological impact of its Sheep Experiment Station.

February 27, 2008 – The Service announced the removal of northern Rockies wolves from the endangered species list, to be effective March 28. The Center and 10 allies filed a notice of intent to sue the Service for the decision.

April 28, 2008 – The Center and 11 allies filed suit against the Service for delisting the wolves.

July 18, 2008 – A federal judge issued a temporary injunction restoring northern Rockies gray wolves to the endangered species list pending the conclusion of the lawsuit challenging their delisting.

September 16, 2008 – The Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was giving up its attack on the wolves and withdrawing its rule removing them from the endangered species list.

October 25, 2008 – The Service re-opened for public comment its 2007 proposal to delist the wolves.

January 4, 2009 – The Service announced a final rule to remove Endangered Species Act protections from all northern Rockies gray wolves except for those in Wyoming. The rule also stripped protections from gray wolves in the Great Lakes region.

January 20, 2009 – President Barack Obama began his administration by issuing a freeze on publication of federal regulations planned under the Bush administration but not yet published. The move effectively halted the premature removal of gray wolves from the endangered species list.

March 5, 2009 – The Fish and Wildlife Service moved forward with the Bush administration's plan to remove gray wolves in the northern Rockies and the upper Midwest from the federal Endangered Species list.

March 25, 2009 – In passing the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Congress approved a demonstration project involving federal compensation for livestock losses to wolves, as well as federal funding for nonlethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock losses to wolves.

April 2, 2009 – The Fish and Wildlife Service's rule to delist northern Rockies and Great Lakes–region wolves was published in the Federal Register; the Center and allies, represented by Earthjustice, filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue.

May 4, 2009 – The rule removing protections for gray wolves in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes region officially took effect. The rule also removed federal protections from any wolves residing in a third of eastern Oregon and Washington, as well as a portion of northern Utah.

June 2, 2009 – The Center and allies filed suit to restore Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in Idaho and Montana.

August 20, 2009 – The Center and allies requested that a federal district court block wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana. Idaho had authorized the killing of 225 wolves in a hunt to begin Sept. 1; Montana had authorized the killing of 75 wolves in a hunt scheduled for Sept. 15.

September 8, 2009 – A federal district court found that the delisting of northern Rockies wolves was probably illegal, finding merit in our case against the administration for removing the wolves' protections. However, the judge declined to stop the wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.

June 2010 – The Center sent a letter to the federal agency Wildlife Services, asking it to withdraw authorization for killing two eastern Oregon wolves because not enough had been done by area ranchers to avoid depredations.

July 1, 2010 – The Center, Cascadia Wildlands,  the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and Oregon Wild sued Wildlife Services for its role in killing the two Oregon wolves.

July 2, 2010 – In response to our July 1 lawsuit, Wildlife Services voluntarily agreed not to kill any wolves in Oregon for at least four weeks.

July 20, 2010 – The Center petitioned the Obama administration for a national recovery plan to establish wolf populations in suitable habitat in the Pacific Northwest, California, Great Basin, southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains and New England.

November 13, 2012 – Conservation groups filed suit challenging the federal government's elimination of Endangered Species Act protections for Wyoming wolves.

December 26, 2012 – After Mexico released nine Mexican gray wolves near the U.S. border in the Sierra Madre — and since wolves from the northern Rocky Mountains could make their way south at any time — the Center filed a formal notice of intent to sue the Service over its decision to grant itself a “recovery permit” to live-capture endangered wolves that may enter New Mexico and Arizona from Mexico or the Rocky Mountains.

May 21, 2013 – In two sharply worded letters sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, prominent scientists argued for continued protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states and criticized a draft federal proposal to remove those protections for being premature and failing to follow the best available science. One of the letters came from the American Society of Mammalogists, the other from 16 prominent biologists.

August 12, 2013 – The Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would put on hold the scientific peer review of its proposal to remove protections for gray wolves across the country while it reviewed its own actions leading to the disqualification of three scientists from the review panel.

November 20, 2013 – Local activists from the Center and allies will rally in Sacramento to voice their opposition to a Service proposal to strip Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states. The proposal to delist wolves would strike a serious blow to wolf recovery across the country, including in California and other West Coast states where wolves are just beginning to make a comeback.

November 20, 2013 – Hundreds of people from all walks of life will testify at a hearing being held tonight in Albuquerque by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take public testimony on management of wolves. The agency has proposed to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves across much of the lower 48 states, but to retain protections for Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

November 22, 2013 – Hundreds of wolf supporters are expected to show up in force 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.

December 17, 2013 – The Center and allies challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service's premature removal of federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming. Arguments were heard at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

January 8, 2014 – The Center joined a coalition of groups in a lawsuit to stop a state-hired bounty hunter from exterminating two entire packs of wolves in the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. According to the lawsuit, the U.S. Forest Service illegally allowed Idaho's Department of Fish and Game to send the hired gun into the wild to kill wolves.

January 24, 2014 – It was released that since delisting, 2,567 gray wolves had been killed by hunters and trappers in the six states where wolf protections were eliminated in 2011 and 2012.

February 2014 – An independent peer review panel found that the Obama administration's proposal to end federal protections for gray wolves across most the lower 48 states contained substantial errors and misrepresented the most current science regarding wolf conservation and wolf taxonomy.

September 23, 2014 – Federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming were reinstated after a judge invalidated the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2012 statewide Endangered Species Act delisting of the species. The ruling from the U.S. District Court halted the management of wolves by Wyoming, a state with a history of hostile and extreme anti-wolf policies. Wolves in the rest of the Northern Rockies remained unprotected.

January 27, 2015 – The Center and allies petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service today to reclassify gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act as threatened throughout the contiguous United States, with the exception of the Mexican gray wolf, which remained listed as endangered.

February 19, 2015 – Following a federal court ruling resulting from the lawsuit filed by the Center and allies in 2013, the Fish and Wildlife Service officially reinstated Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming.

August 19, 2015 – An apparent gray wolf, possibly from the northern Rocky Mountains, was caught on video in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

January 5, 2016 – The Center and four other conservation groups filed a petition requesting that the Service continue monitoring northern Rocky Mountains gray wolves for another five years.

January 20, 2016 – The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the so-called “Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2016,” with the inclusion of an amendment from Sen. John Barasso (R-Wyo.) to permanently end Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Wyoming and the western Great Lakes states.

March 9, 2016 – After the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to respond to our January petition, the Center and allies filed a notice of intent to sue the agency to extend the federal monitoring period for Northern rockies wolves.

June 1, 2016 – Five conservation groups including the Center filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services' killing of gray wolves in Idaho. The agency had killed at least 72 wolves in Idaho in the previous year, using methods including foothold traps, wire snares that strangle wolves, and aerial gunning from helicopters.

May 12, 2017 – The Center contributed $5,000 toward a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the party responsible for illegally shooting and killing a famous wolf in Yellowstone National Park.

July 26, 2017 – The Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee voted to advance a bill (the Hunting Heritage and Environmental Legacy Preservation for Wildlife Act, or HELP Wildlife Act) that would strip protection from thousands of endangered wolves in the Great Lakes region and Wyoming.

Photo courtesy of USFWS