Reactions to the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act

It was announced on Oct. 29, 2020, that gray wolves were going to be removed from the Endangered Species Act. Since that announcement, news stories and press releases have been filled with quotes from various officials, lawyers, activists and politicians. We’ve compiled several noteworthy quotes on this page so you can easily see what is being said from multiple sides.

“This is no ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment for wolf recovery. Wolves are only starting to get a toehold in places like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and wolves need federal protection to explore habitat in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast. This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy — and it’s illegal, so we will see them in court.”

Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice attorney. Full post here.

“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.”

David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior. Full post here. 

“We should be putting much more effort into coexistence with wolves, working to ensure that populations in the lower 48 are thriving and are able to play out their ecological role balancing our natural systems, instead of stripping critical protections still needed for their full recovery,”  “The science is clear that to protect our communities and prevent future pandemics, we need to be doing more to protect nature and wildlife, not less.”

Bonnie Rice, Sierra Club senior campaign representative. Full post here.

“Today is a win for the gray wolf and the American people. I am grateful for these partnerships with States and Tribes and their commitment to sustainable management of wolves that will ensure the species long-term survival following this delisting.”

Aurelia Skipwith, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Full post here. 

“We cannot let one-sided misinformation and fairy tales drive management decisions about wolves. We need wolf management to be based on the best scientific data available and respectful dialogue.”

Grant Spickelmier, executive director, International Wolf Center. Full story here. 

“Again and again the courts have rejected premature removal of wolf protections. But instead of pursuing further wolf recovery, the Fish and Wildlife Service has just adopted its broadest, most destructive delisting rule yet. The courts recognize, even if the feds don’t, that the Endangered Species Act requires real wolf recovery, including in the southern Rockies and other places with ideal wolf habitat.”

Collette Adkins, carnivore and conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. Full post here.

“The re-emergence of the gray wolf in the United States is a great comeback story,”“The federal decision to de-list the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act returns management of wolf populations to the states. While confirmed sightings of gray wolves are very rare in Nebraska, we are grateful that the states will have responsibility for their management.”

Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska. Full post here. 

“Removing protections for gray wolves amid a global extinction crisis is shortsighted and dangerous to America’s conservation legacy. Rather than working alongside communities to support the return of wolves to parks and surrounding landscapes including Dinosaur National Monument, North Cascades and Lassen National Forest, the administration essentially today said ‘good enough’ and removed Endangered Species Act protections. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal ignores the requirements of the Endangered Species Act, science and common sense.”

Bart Melton, wildlife program director for the National Parks Conservation Association. Full post here.

“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.”

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO for Defenders of Wildlife. Full post here.

“It is far too early to declare wolves recovered and to strip protections from them in the Western two-thirds of Oregon. Removing wolves from the endangered species list would turn their management entirely over to Oregon’s embattled Department of Fish and Wildlife, which continues to push for hunting and trapping of the state’s already fragile wolf population.”

Danielle Moser, wildlife program coordinator for Oregon Wild. Full post here.

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration ignoring science. From climate change denial, to their gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to rollbacks of environmental safeguards protecting clean air and water, this administration has proven time and time again that they’re only in it for themselves, even if it means ignoring and denying the facts. The battle over wolf recovery is, unfortunately, both politically charged and partisan. For decades, ranchers have demonized wolves because they are an impediment to carefree, inexpensive grazing of private livestock on public lands. Finalizing delisting of wolves a few days before an election is a gift to the ranching and agricultural interests, plain and simple.”

Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director with WildEarth Guardians. Full post here.

“The gray wolf has been on the Endangered Species List for almost 50 years, but species recovery efforts led by federal, state and local governments have helped their populations recover to sustainable goals. Today’s decision is a sign of success for the ESA. By allowing state governments to control the management of gray wolf populations, we can develop a more collaborative approach to protect the species, our economy and our communities. I support the Administration’s efforts to delist the gray wolf and look forward to working with our partners in the federal and state governments to better implement species recovery measures.”

Clearwater County, Minnesota, Commissioner Mark Titera. Full post here. 

“The gray wolf is one of the most successful species recoveries in history, despite the mounds of federal red tape and abusive litigation preventing this long-overdue delisting. It’s unfortunate it took this long for the federal government to turn management back to the states, when in fact state management and expertise is what got us to where we are today. Once again, the Trump Administration and Interior leadership took action to move good policy forward.”

U.S. Representative Rob Bishop (UT-01). Full story here.

“The tribes have very ancient and traditional relationship with what we call ma’iingan — the word for wolf. The tribes will take whatever means or avenues necessary to help protect their relative.”

Dylan Jennings, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesperson. Full story here.

“In northern Minnesota, proper management of the gray wolf is important to maintaining our way of life. Therefore, I applaud President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, and Director Skipwith for listening to sound science and rightfully delisting the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. With Minnesota’s whitetail firearm season so close, this announcement could not have come at a better time, as empowering state agencies to responsibly manage the gray wolf will help to conserve our deer herd for generations while putting cattle farmers at ease.”

U.S. Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08). Full story here.

Today there are an estimated 5,600 gray wolves in the United States and grey wolf population continues to exceed the appropriate management levels. The levels were established by relevant state wildlife divisions and benchmarks from the Fish and Wildlife Service.”

Senator Mike Lee, Utah. Full story here.

Populations have reached critically high numbers in many states – so high, in fact, that wolves are not just preying on livestock, but pushing elk and deer onto U.S. farms and ranches, which leads to even more destruction.

American Farm Bureau Federation. Full story here.

“The State of Utah applauds the delisting of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). States are often best positioned to appropriately manage wildlife populations. With the number of wolves growing across the West, we believe it is time to allow the states to take the helm.”

Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Full story here.

“Ranchers across the American West have lost livestock because of ever growing gray wolf populations with no way to protect their herds from this threat. Gray wolf populations have exceeded recovery expectations for years, and three Administrations have tried to de-list the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act. President Trump and Secretary Bernhardt finally got it done. Turning gray wolf population management back over to states and tribes will give back local control and inevitably save cattle, sheep, other livestock, and families from the threat of a grey wolf. This is a great win for the West, and I thank the Trump Administration for consistently prioritizing agribusinesses across America.”

U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). Full story here.

“The gray wolf was delisted in Montana in 2011, and ever since the state took over management of the species, population numbers have stayed well above the minimum sustainable levels for survival and recovery. State and local governments are ready and willing partners helping to implement sound, scientific policies on the ground to protect the wolf and our communities. The recovery of gray wolf populations in the lower-48 states is a significant ESA success story showing what can be achieved when governments at all levels work together. I applaud the administration for taking the next step with today’s decision to delist the gray wolf in these states.”

Ravalli County, Montana, Commissioner Greg Chilcott. Full story here.

“Rural residents of the contiguous United States owe a great debt of gratitude to the Trump Administration. Returning the jurisdiction over wolves, excepting Mexican wolves, to the State governments where they occur or might occur in the future paves the way into a future where all wildlife and all human endeavors and families can once again strive to exist harmoniously under the tried and true American model of wildlife management. Thank you, President Trump for making this sensible move that improves rural America, the lives of rural Americans and the American wildlife that is so important and precious to all of us.”

Retired U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Wetlands Biologist Jim Beers. Full story here.

“I don’t know of a cattleman out there that wants to see the gray wolf eliminated. They’d prefer some management. The state just hasn’t been able to do any management.”

Shayne Isane, cattle rancher, Roseau County, Minnesota. Full story here.