WASHINGTON— Top wolf scientists said today that there are major flaws in the Trump administration proposal to end Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves in nearly all the lower 48 states.
According to the peer reviews commissioned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency’s proposal contains substantial errors and misrepresents the most current science regarding wolf conservation and taxonomy.
“The nation’s top wolf scientists just confirmed that the critical work of recovering this imperiled species is far from complete,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This peer review is a major blow to the Trump administration’s blatantly political effort to prematurely end protection for wolves. The federal government should not allow these animals to be shot and trapped.”
The five reviewers unanimously criticized the delisting proposal, and four offered strong opposition. Dr. Carlos Carroll, a conservation biologist at the Klamath Center for Conservation Research, explained in his review that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s “omissions and errors” led the agency to “reach an erroneous conclusion.” And Dr. Daniel MacNulty, associate professor in Utah State University’s department of wildland resources, noted that “there are demonstrable errors of fact, interpretation, and logic.”
Peer review is critical in deciding whether to end endangered species protection for a species because it ensures outside experts agree that a species is truly able to stand on its own once protection is removed.
“It’s time for the Service to withdraw this disastrous proposal to end the very protection that saved wolves from extinction,” said Adkins. “The agency needs to develop a long-term plan to restore wolves to New England and the southern Rockies. Only then can wolves truly be considered recovered in the United States.”
In March the Service announced plans to strip gray wolves of Endangered Species Act protection. The proposal would remove federal protection from all gray wolves in the contiguous United States, except Mexican gray wolves.
If finalized the plan will allow trophy hunting and trapping of wolves in some areas and hamper wolf recovery in the lower 48 states.
Earlier this month a coalition of organizations submitted nearly 1 million comments opposing the proposal to remove wolf protection. This is the largest number of comments ever received by the federal government on an Endangered Species Act issue in the law’s 45-year history. The Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the formal public comment period on the delisting proposal until July 15.