106 wolves have been killed in the past 118 days That's nearly one wolf killed every day. And if Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have their way, at least 900 wolves -- nearly 60 percent of the population -- could be exterminated this fall.
Wolf B160's carcass are available on NRDC's digital newsroom).
In their challenge to wolf delisting, the groups alleged multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act. They said the death toll confirms arguments that the delisting decision threatens wolf survival. They also said the delisting decision was based on outdated science.
"We understand wolf biology, behavior and genetics much better than when the original wolf recovery goal was developed more than 20 years ago," said Dr. Sylvia Fallon, an NRDC Action Fund scientist. "You and your doctor wouldn't make important health decisions based on outdated research, yet that's exactly what the federal government has done with wolves."
The lawsuit says scientists have determined wolf populations are still too fragmented and a minimum population of 2,000 to 5,000 animals is needed to ensure enough genetic diversity for the animals' long-term survival. At the time of delisting there were about 1,500 wolves in the region. All but 300 could be allowed to be killed under the government's current minimum recovery standard.
The Action Fund's partner group, NRDC, filed a petition in February requesting that the Fish and Wildlife Service establish legitimate targets for recovery of wolves throughout the lower 48 states. In its petition, NRDC demonstrates that the service failed to recover wolves on much of the available public lands where wolves formerly lived, and ignored decades of scientific analysis. Without explanation or any scientific basis, the service set widely different recovery goals in the Midwest, Northern Rockies and Southwest regions.
The reintroduction of wolves by the federal government 12 years ago has been widely hailed as a major success story. It has measurably improved the natural balance in the Northern Rockies and benefited bird, antelope and elk populations, according to the Action Fund. Many thousands of visitors flock to Yellowstone National Park each year to see and hear wolves in the wild, contributing at least $35 million to the local economy each year, the group said.
Thousands of gray wolves roamed the Rocky Mountains before being slaughtered and eliminated from 95 percent of the lower 48 states by the 1930s. The gray wolf was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. Reintroduction efforts placed 66 wolves in Yellowstone National Park and part of Idaho in 1995-96.
The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of NRDC, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, The Humane Society of the United States, Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands Project, Western Watersheds Project, and Wildlands Project.
As part of its "Call Off the Guns" campaign, the NRDC Action Fund has generated more than 150,000 comments and emails to the Bush administration, urging it to maintain strong protections for the wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The campaign also ran national TV and print ads in an effort to mobilize the public against the government's wolf killing plan.