Court upholds decision on Great Lakes gray wolf population

By Kaitlyn Miller

©Tracy Brooks/USFWS

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a lower court decision on Aug. 1, causing federal protections to continue for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region. The Court’s ruling voided a 2011 rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to  delist gray wolves (Canis lupus) in the western Great Lakes region due to recovery of the population.

The Appeals Court concluded that the USFWS has the authority under the U.S. Endangered Species Act to divide the wolves into distinct population segments for the purpose of delisting, but only when the Service first makes the proper findings and analysis. The Court found that in this case the USFWS did not properly identify the Western Great Lakes wolves as a distinct population segment, as the USFWS did not consider the effect delisting the Western Great Lakes wolves would have on other wolf populations that remain under federal protection.

The USFWS has been attempting to delist segments of the U.S.’ gray wolf population since 2003. There are a number of pieces of legislation making their way through congress that would require the final rules delisting the Western Great Lakes wolves be reissued and exempt from judicial review.

Read TWS’ Position Statements on The U.S. Endangered Species Act and Wolf Restoration and Management in the Contiguous United States. 

Read more at NPR news.