Environmental groups seek immediate protection for Northern Rockies gray wolves
Advocacy groups are asking the federal government to issue emergency protections for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies, the only gray wolf population not on the Endangered Species List.
Ten groups and individuals filed a petition Tuesday pushing back against wolf-hunting laws in the region and asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to relist the region’s gray wolves on a temporary, emergency basis.
A federal judge last month restored protections for gray wolves outside of the Northern Rockies, less than two years after the Trump administration delisted them.
Matthew Koehler with WildEarth Guardians takes a hard stance against hunting native predators like the gray wolf as both a spokesperson and a hunter.
“We’re taught as part of ethical hunting that you eat what you kill,” he said. “And I don’t know a lot of people eating wolf.”
The petition is part of pushback from conservation groups, wildlife biologists and advocates in response to new laws Idaho and Montana passed last year that relaxed wolf hunting regulations.
Koehler said a similar petition that groups filed in 2021 went unaddressed.
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks estimates there are more than 1,000 wolves in the state, ten times the number of wolves more than two decades ago due to a concentrated population recovery effort.
The state successfully applied to remove wolves from the Endangered Species List and took over management in 2011.
Montana’s current management laws aim to reduce the wolf population in the state to a “sustainable” level, but no fewer than 15 breeding pairs.
A spokesperson with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the agency is examining the protection status of gray wolf populations and expects to finish its evaluation by the end of September.
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