Three wolves from the Walla Walla pack in Umatilla County. Remote camera image taken Jan. 13, 2017. (ODFW)

Gray wolves delisted as ‘endangered species’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gray wolves in the Lower 48 states are no longer protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Gray wolves in the contiguous United States were nearly wiped out in the mid-20th century. They received endangered species status in 1975 when there were only about 1,000 left, only in Minnesota. Now there are over 5,000 spread out to the west coast.

Even though wolves occupy about 15% of the area they once roamed, federal officials argue that’s enough for them to not be under imminent threat.

Last year, then-Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced a proposal to lift protections for gray wolves. On October 29, 2020, those protections were officially lifted with the Trump administration declaring a “successful recovery of the gray wolf.”

“Today’s action reflects the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to species conservation based on the parameters of the law and the best scientific and commercial data available,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery. Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law.”

A press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior stated, “No administration in history has recovered more imperiled species in their first term than the Trump administration.”

Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark said of the delisting, “Stripping protections for gray wolves is premature and reckless. Gray wolves occupy only a fraction of their former range and need continued federal protection to fully recover. We will be taking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court to defend this iconic species.”

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