Safari Club International (SCI) and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are preparing to jointly intervene in three lawsuits that challenge the removal of gray wolves from the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). Three groups of anti-hunting organizations filed separate suits in the US District Court of the Northern District of California after the US Fish & Wildlife Service officially delisted the gray wolf this past January, transferring management of the species to state wildlife departments.
The three suits challenge the delisting based on 20 claims, mostly centered around the charge that the species is not recovered across the vast majority of its former ranges throughout the United States. Natural Resources Defense Council filed independently. A second suit was filed by the Western Environmental Law Center on behalf of WildEarth Guardians and a coalition of eight other organizations. Lastly, Earthjustice filed on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, National Parks Conservation Association and Oregon Wild.
SCI and the NRA expect to intervene in all three suits and defend the delisting, wolf population recovery and the responsible transfer of wolf management to the state wildlife authorities. The cases have been assigned to the same judge and are on a concurrent timeline. A case management conference is scheduled for May when the judge will decide how the cases will proceed and set deadlines. The cases themselves could take anywhere from six months to two years to adjudicate, depending on the filing of any emergency motions or appeals.
In the meantime, Wisconsin held a wolf hunt in February and plans to reopen the season in November. Other states where wolves were previously delisted (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming) have also announced wolf hunting seasons for 2021. Be sure to read the upcoming April issue of Safari Times for more about the wolf delisting and related issues.