SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Dozens of Californians spoke out Thursday, at a Sacramento hearing, against the Trump administration’s proposal to end federal protection for nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states.
The administration released its wolf proposal in March but has refused to schedule any hearings to accept public comment on the topic. Written comments on the plan, which would make the imperiled animals vulnerable to hunting and trapping, are due May 14.
Conservation groups organized Thursday’s public hearing to collect comments on the wolf proposal. Verbal testimony at the hearing will be transcribed and submitted into the official record with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“People from all walks of life are calling on the Trump administration not to pull the plug on wolf recovery,” said Ash Lauth, a senior California field campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Taking away protection now will take us back to when wolves were persecuted to the brink of extinction. We can’t let that happen.”
Thursday’s hearing was preceded by a rally with scores of people with signs and wolf masks. Similar citizen hearings are being held in Portland, Ore. and Denver.
On March 6 the Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to strip gray wolves of Endangered Species Act protection across the lower 48 states. If finalized the proposal will allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in some areas and essentially end recovery of wolves in the United States.
The proposal would remove federal protection from all gray wolves, with the exception of Mexican gray wolves, which are listed separately under the Endangered Species Act.
The proposal will also all but ensure that wolves are not allowed to recover in the Adirondacks, southern Rockies or other areas where scientists have identified suitable habitat.