Reps. Lauren Boebert (CO-03) and Tom Tiffany (WI-07) led 22 additional Members of Congress in a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Haaland encouraging her to appeal a recent decision by an activist California judge that failed to follow the best available science and instead, through his decision, restored Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in most states, despite the wolf being fully recovered.

Rep. Lauren Boebert said, “The gray wolf is fully recovered, should remain delisted in the lower 48 United States, and should be managed by the States. It’s really that simple. Some activist judge from California shouldn’t be able to overturn the best available science and contradict the law based on his own leftist political beliefs. The same career bureaucrats that worked at the Department of the Interior under the Trump administration that found the gray wolf is fully recovered are still working at the Department. The science hasn’t changed, and Secretary Haaland should appeal the unlawful decision by the California judge. I will continue to fight for our ranchers and to protect their livestock from these dangerous predators.”

Rep. Tom Tiffany stated, “Unelected bureaucrats and California judges do not know what is best for Wisconsin’s wolf management – state officials do. Farmers, sportsmen, and families are tired of being seesawed from listings to de-listings. If the Biden administration truly wants to follow the science, then they need to start by looking at the recovery facts and return gray wolf management back to where it belongs, in states’ hands.”

House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman said, “It’s high time we trust the science with regard to ESA delisting. The gray wolf is recovered. Despite ample scientific and commercial evidence indicating the gray wolf is truly recovered, a federal court intervened and ignored the evidence. DOI must appeal this decision so that the science can prevail with the gray wolf and into the future.”

Chairman of the Western Caucus Dan Newhouse stated, “As we have said all along — and as the science dictates — states, rural communities, and private conservationists have done a far better job at recovering gray wolf populations than the federal government ever could. I am proud to join Reps. Boebert and Tiffany in calling on the Administration to defend the rule created by their own career employees and allow these successful localized recovery efforts to continue.”

Rep. Tom Emmer said, “Gray wolves are no longer endangered, and pose a very real threat to Minnesota’s more than 16,000 beef farmers and ranchers. Minnesotans have proven that we are responsible stewards of our own wildlife. We urge the Biden administration to trust us to manage the gray wolf population, instead of threatening our agriculture community with a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Rep. Russ Fulcher said, “Relisting of the gray wolf has a long and controversial history, both at the federal and state levels. It is disappointing to see the Trump Administration’s rulemaking decision reversed. Idaho’s comprehensive wildlife management policies consider critical economic factors, from big game hunting to ranching, and should not be second guessed by Washington D.C. It is my hope to see that state management plans are honored in regard to management of the gray wolf.”

Rep. Pete Stauber stated, “Secretary Haaland needs to appeal the court decision made in California that ignores science and fact. The gray wolf is recovered. The Biden, Trump, and Obama Administrations all agreed. In fact, these wolves are now a danger to our domestic animals and livestock. It’s more important now than ever to support state led conservation and management of the gray wolves, and not let unelected judges and bureaucrats from D.C. and California decide how we protect our livestock, support our deer herds, and manage our gray wolves.”

Rep. Matt Rosendale said, “Gray wolves have well surpassed their recovery targets and it is high time we follow the facts and delist the species from the Endangered Species Act. In Montana, Gray Wolf populations were under 100 in the late 1990s. Today, our state is home to more than 1,200 wolves—greatly exceeding federal management objectives. The recovery of wolves in Montana is just one of many examples of state conservation success stories. I urge the Biden administration to allow states to lead conservation and management efforts, which have been proven to be highly successful in the past.”

Rep. Ken Buck stated, “After 45 years of successful population recovery and rehabilitation, the Trump administration made the right decision when it delisted the gray wolf from federal protections. By caving to radical environmentalists, the Biden administration is hurting farmers and ranchers in Colorado who have to deal with the threats posed to their livelihood by the gray wolf, not to mention undercutting the important work done by state, local, and private conservation groups.”

Rep. Michelle Fischbach said, “The ESA is intended to be a tool for recovery, not permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. I am proud to join this letter and hope Secretary Haaland will support state-led management of the gray wolf.”

Colorado Farm Bureau President Carlyle Currier said, “Colorado ranchers know all too well what it means to live alongside predators. Not only are cattle at risk for attacks from mountain lions and bears, wolves are also killing cattle before they’ve even been officially ‘reintroduced’ to the state because of a recent citizen-led ballot initiative. It is the perfect example of why science should lead wildlife management decisions, not bureaucrats or politics. Wildlife management is complicated. Ranchers know that because they live it every day and have to face the consequences of these decisions, fighting to protect their livestock and their livelihoods. The ESA wasn’t meant to be a tool to hold species hostage through regulatory capture, the data is clear – wolves are recovered and thriving. Delist them.”

The Minnesota Farm Bureau stated, “Minnesota Farm Bureau is incredibly disappointed in the ruling to return the gray wolf to the Endangered Species List. The gray wolf is a success story for the Endangered Species List which is intended to be a tool for recovery, not permanent protected status for animals that are now thriving. Management of the gray wolf should remain with the states which can implement specific management plans. It is time for the ESA to work as it was intended and to remove species that no longer warrant its protections.”

Background:

In 2020, the Department of the Interior used the best available science and data to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. At over 6,000 wolves in the lower 48 United States at the time of delisting, the gray wolf has been the latest in a strong list of ESA recoveries with populations in the northern Rocky Mountains and across the mountain West and western Great Lakes regions. Gray wolf populations have been managed responsibly by state and tribal efforts since their delisting.

An activist judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a decision requiring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rereview the rule.

The California court exceeded its authority by adding additional standards for delisting a species beyond what the statute requires. Congress has never delegated judges the authority to write sweeping policy provisions under the Endangered Species Act, and it is necessary for the Biden regime to appeal this awful decision in order to preserve the Constitutional separation of powers.

In Congress, Rep. Boebert has been actively leading on the gray wolf issue. In October, Rep. Boebert called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse its decision to study relisting the gray wolf. Additionally, Rep. Boebert’s appropriations request for $1 million for the Wolf-Livestock Loss Demonstration Program to compensate farmers and ranchers whose livestock are killed by wolves reintroduced by federal programs was signed into law. Rep. Boebert will also be introducing legislation in the near future to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States.

The following organizations support Rep. Boebert and Rep. Tiffany’s letter to the Department of the Interior: American Farm Bureau Federation, Colorado Livestock Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Wool Growers Association, House Committee on Natural Resources Republicans, Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, Minnesota State Farm Bureau, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Washington Farm Bureau, Western Caucus, Wisconsin Cattleman’s Association, Wyoming Farm Bureau, and Alaska Farm Bureau Federation.

Rep. Boebert and Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07) led the following members in their letter to Secretary Haaland: Western Caucus Chairman Dan Newhouse (WA-04), House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (AR-04), and Reps. Pete Stauber (MN-08), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Yvette Herrell (NM-02), Cliff Bentz (OR-02), Jack Bergman (MI-01), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Ken Buck (CO-04), Tom Emmer (MN-06), Michelle Fischbach (MN-07), Russ Fulcher (ID-01), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Scott Perry (PA-10), Matt Rosendale (MT-AL), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Bryan Steil (WI-01), and Ben Cline (VA-06).

The full text of Rep. Boebert’s letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Haaland,

We write to strongly encourage you to support state led conservation and management of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) nationwide and confirm the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s repeated conclusion that the species is recovered and needs no further protection under the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, we urge the Department to appeal a recent decision by the U.S. District Court Northern District of California related to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) rule de-listing gray wolves in the lower 48 states published on November 3, 2020 (85 Fed. Reg. 69778).

In 2020, the Service removed the gray wolf in the lower 48 United States through a process that included the best scientific and commercial data available. In the final rulemaking the Service demonstrated that the scientific data clearly showed that the gray wolf entities in the lower 48 states “do not meet the definitions of a threatened or endangered species under the Act.”

Unfortunately, in September, the Department found that two petitions to list the gray wolf in the western United States and in the Northern Rocky Mountains may be warranted and that the Service would initiate a 12-month comprehensive status review. While we do not agree with the determination on the petitions and are disappointed that the administration is giving credence to them, we believe this review will show that state management is more than adequate in preserving wolves across the West.

State and private conservation efforts have been shown to be more than adequate in managing gray wolves at sustainable levels since de-listing and gray wolf populations in the areas designated by these petitions—such as Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—have far exceeded the federal management objectives of 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs per state. There are currently an estimated 3,000 gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain states: 1,543 in Idaho, 1,117 in Montana, and 327 in Wyoming. Each of these states have far exceeded their population goals.

In its September announcement, the Department cited new regulations put forward in Montana and Idaho as justification for finding that the petitions may be warranted. These assertions are already proving to be false. For example, in Montana, the number of wolves harvested this year is in line with previous years, thus proving that new legislation is not impacting species conservation. Additionally, Idaho Fish and Game announced at the end of January that the wolf population remains stable. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin, the Service originally listed the wolf recovery goal as 100 animals. Yet that population had grown to nearly 1,000 – more than 10 times the initial recovery goal – by 2017.

In the interim and with regard to the reintroduction of gray wolves in Colorado, as required by Proposition 114 that instructs the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to reintroduce and manage gray wolves in the state by the end of 2023, the Service should work with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission and local stakeholders to quickly adopt a 10(j) rule that allows for appropriate state management of wolves to include capturing and translocating, moving to captivity, or lethally taking problem gray wolves that depredate livestock.

The Northern District of California’s decision included a number of controversial views, which is why we believe it would be appropriate for the Department to appeal. For example, the decision attempts to overturn the Service’s deference when interpreting and implementing the best available science. The decision also sets an unimaginably high bar by requiring the Service to consider the historical range of a species before moving to de-list. For gray wolves, that would mean the entire Continental United States would have to be examined, regardless of habitat realities or occupancy potential. In fact, the term “historical” does not appear as part of the five criteria to list a species so there is simply no authority to require it as part of de-listing. The Court also fails to reconcile its conclusion that the states with wolves have adequate management plans to ensure that the species does not again become endangered with the conclusion that the species should be listed as threatened or endangered because wolf populations are not viable throughout its historic range. Lastly, the decision would force the Service to consider federal public land management regimes before de-listing, even if they are not viable for the continued existence of the species.

We are confident that the current review will demonstrate that state management is more than adequate for ensuring the conservation of the species while reducing significant economic impact to local communities and believe that the most up to date data clearly shows that an emergency listing is not needed to conserve the species. We also would urge you to appeal the U.S. District Court Northern District of California’s decision from February 10th of this year to ensure that the Service is not subject to impossible standards for de-listing.

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