NE Wolf Recovery Petition

Wolves are protected in the northeast through the Endangered Species Act.  Neither the federal nor state governments are giving wolves the protection to which they are legally entitled.  In fact, the state governments are promoting the killing of wolves through policies that encourage the killing of coywolves which often cannot be readily distinguished from wolves.  The federal government is doing virtually nothing to prevent the killing of wolves in the northeast or to promote their recovery.

In August 2007 and again in January 2009, several individuals petitioned the federal government to take the necessary actions to protect wolves and to work towards their recovery in the northeast U.S.   The 2009 petition requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do the following:

* Establish a Northeastern Gray Wolf Distinct Population Segment consisting of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts;

* Regulate the commerce or taking, and treat as endangered species in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Massachusetts, coyotes, coyote-gray wolf hybrids, eastern wolves, eastern wolf-gray wolf hybrids, coyote-eastern wolf hybrids, and coyote-eastern wolf-gray wolf hybrids due to their similarity in appearance to the gray wolf; and,

* Develop and implement a Northeastern Gray Wolf Recovery Plan.

On June 10, 2010, the USFWS issued its “Notice of 90-day petition finding” acting only on the DPS issue and denying the petition on the basis that it “does not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the DPS of the gray wolf in Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine may be warranted.”  In its denial, the USFWS acknowledged that in July 2000 (during the Clinton Administration) they also had proposed a gray wolf DPS for the northeast U.S.  This proposal was not part of the final rule when the rule was issued in 2003 during the Bush Administration.

The USFWS also issued a letter dated June 9, 2010 regarding the two remaining issues.  In it they stated that the similarity of appearance designation for the purpose of regulating the taking of coyotes, wolves and coyote-wolf hybrids is not petitionable under the Endangered Species Act.  However, they did consider the request under the Administrative Procedures Act and have determined that “…a similarity of appearance designation is unwarranted at this time….”  They also stated that the creation of a northeastern wolf recovery plan is also not petitionable under the ESA, but stated that they will assess the need for additional wolf recovery plans.  No action will be taken on either of these two issues until the USFWS completes “an analysis of the currently listed gray wolf entity…(including)…its taxonomic identity or identities, population structure(s), and range(s).” According to the USFWS, “This analysis of the currently listed gray wolf entity is necessary to determine the need and appropriate scale(s) for recovery planning which will, in turn, help us determine whether restoration of a wolf population in the northeastern United States would be necessary for recovery of the listed entity.”

We encourage you to contact Secretary of Interior Salazar and President Obama expressing support for wolf recovery in the Northeast and asking for a Northeast Wolf Recovery Plan.

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