Action Alert! USFWS proposes to eliminate federal protection for wolves in the northeast!

Eastern wolf in/near Ontario’s Algonquin Park

Eastern wolf in/near Ontario’s Algonquin Park

On May 5, 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed rule that would eliminate federal protection for wolves in the northeast because the Service now says that the gray wolf is not native to all or parts of 29 states including all of the northeast U.S.  In its proposed rule, the USFWS provided no evidence to support its claim that gray wolves are not native to the northeast.  Instead, the USFWS is now recognizing the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) as the wolf that is native to the northeast.  If enacted, the rule would eliminate federal protection for wolves throughout the central and eastern U.S.

In the proposed rule, the USFWS announced initiation of a status review for the eastern wolf throughout its range in the U.S. and Canada.  They are not at this time proposing to list the eastern wolf as endangered or threatened, but state that they will evaluate it “for possible protection under the Act in the near future.” Any such listing may be years away, if ever, given the huge backlog for listing other species.  The immediate effect of this rule will be to remove any protection for wolves in spite of the growing evidence that they are returning to the northeast.  The proposed rule contains no mention whatsoever of the documented wolves that have been killed in the northeast over the past several decades.  Likewise, it says nothing about wolf biology in the northeast including the fact that much of northern New England was a wolf/moose/caribou ecosystem well into the 19th century and that the lack of white-tailed deer in much of this region would have favored the gray wolf over the smaller eastern wolf.  While the eastern wolf has been physically documented to have been native to the northeast, the lack of physical evidence of gray wolves having lived here in the 19th century is not proof that they are not native here, as well.  In fact, based upon the biological evidence, it is likely that northern New England was an area where the range of both wolf species overlapped.

We urge and encourage you to comment on the proposed rule.   You can do so via the internet, in writing, or in person.  A public hearing on the rule will be held on June 8, 2011 at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta, Maine.



The State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation has submitted comments strongly critical of the USFWS proposed rule including their continuing efforts to remove protections for wolves in the northeast U.S.   See their letter and the comments from Dr. Roland Kays here.



Maine Audubon testifies against wolf delisting

In a letter dated September 26, 2011  the Maine Audubon Society submitted written testimony urging rejection of the proposed rule.  In testimony submitted by Sally Stockwell, Maine Audubon opposes de-listing the gray wolf in the northeast U.S. for several reasons including: (1) the eastern wolf is not a separate species from the gray wolf; (2) de-listing the gray wolf now presumes that it was the “historic” wolf in the northeast and removes federal protection; (3) recent DNA evidence indicates that the eastern wolf is actually a wolf/coyote hybrid; and, (4) because the historic presence of moose and caribou in the northeast it is likely that the larger gray wolf (Canis lupus) was historically present here as well.

The Maine Wolf Coalition, Inc. thanks Maine Audubon for their testimony and for their support of wolf recovery in the northeast.

Comments are closed.