Safari Club International (SCI) supports the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to deny two petitions to list wolves in the Western United States under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After a thorough scientific review, the FWS found that these wolves are not at risk of extinction, now or in the foreseeable future. That decision was published on February 7, 2024.
“SCI has supported and defended in court the downlisting and delisting of gray wolves for over 20 years,” said SCI Executive Vice President for International Government and Public Affairs Ben Cassidy. “As the FWS found, the science is clear that wolf populations are not endangered or threatened. Animal rights groups file these petitions to fundraise and deceive their supporters about the sustainability of gray wolves. But what wolves really need is responsible management through hunting and conflict mitigation to increase social tolerance and facilitate natural range expansion into appropriate habitat.”
While SCI supports the denial of these petitions, SCI questions the FWS’ intent to develop a nationwide recovery plan for gray wolves. The FWS has repeatedly found that gray wolves have exceeded recovery goals beginning in 2003.
Since 2003, SCI has been involved in numerous lawsuits related to downlisting or delisting gray wolves in the Lower 48 States. SCI’s efforts aim to recognize the successful recovery of gray wolves, return wolves to state management, and clear the way for regulated hunting to manage growing wolf populations. In the most recent case in 2022, a California federal court found that state management plans and regulations do not threaten the survival of gray wolves but still overturned the FWS’ nationwide delisting for technical reasons. The court’s decision underscores the fact that state management can be more responsive to the negative effects that gray wolves impose on those who live within their range.
“States are the best managers for gray wolves,” said Cassidy. “Even a California judge has found this. The FWS has no business dedicating its scarce resources to a recovered species that can and should be conserved under state law.”
SCI is currently in court defending the 2020 delisting of gray wolves in the Lower 48 States. An appeal of the decision to overturn the 2020 delisting rule is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
SCI remains committed to defending the delisting of the recovered gray wolf in court and in Congress. There is no question that gray wolves have exceeded recovery goals. There is also no doubt that tens of thousands of gray wolves inhabit Canada and Alaska, and the continental population of gray wolves is healthy and increasing.