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Natural Resources & Energy

Gray wolves across nation are under federal protections again but not Wyoming, Idaho, Montana wolves

Gray wolf stand in a valley head raised up, mouth open howling.
Jim Laybourn
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In 2020, the Trump administration delisted all of the gray wolves in the United States that were not already delisted. That included wolves in the Great Lakes and the western portions of Washington, California and Oregon. But in a new ruling on Feb. 10, the judge said that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to show that wolf populations were sustainable without protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity's Andrea Zaccardi said this court ruling is a victory.

"Courts have time and time again dismissed the Fish and Wildlife Service's attempts to remove federal protections for gray wolves. And hopefully, this will convince the Fish and Wildlife Service that these wolves still need protection," she said.

Gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains (Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) are not part of this decision because they were delisted by a congressional rider in 2011. Wildlife advocates have recently argued for the return of federal protections to this population because of state-sponsored hunting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency is currently in the process of a 12-month review of the status of northern Rocky Mountain wolves.

Governor Mark Gordon released a statement saying the decision to review the animal's status in the west shows a strong disconnect between Washington D.C. and the reality in Wyoming. Gordon emphasized that the animals are successfully managed by the state.

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