The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is deliberating the proposed removal of nearly all Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states, with the possible exception of the Mexican gray wolf. This delisting would be a conservation nightmare.
Delisting would turn wolf management decisions over to the states, and we've already seen what can happen when federal protections for wolves are eliminated. Montana, Wyoming and Idaho — all states where wolves have been delisted — have become free-fire zones. Hundreds of wolves have been gunned down or trapped, and as the recent tragic killing of eight collared Yellowstone wolves outside the boundary of the park attests, the sustainability of wolves in the Rockies is in jeopardy.
Please send an urgent message to President Obama, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe — demand that wolves retain the federal protection they need to ensure their recovery in the wild.
The restoration of wolves has been hailed as one of the biggest successes of the Endangered Species Act since it was passed in 1973. But the important work of wolf recovery is unfinished. Delisting the gray wolf will halt four decades of progress in its tracks and expose America's wolves to unwarranted and unsustainable killing.
This is precisely what has happened in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana -- where the premature delisting of those states' wolf populations has led to the killing of hundreds of wolves. This race to the bottom in wolf management threatens to seriously undermine wolves' hard-won climb from the brink of extinction.
Delisting could also derail efforts to restore wolves to more of their historic range, including Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, Utah and California.
Wolves are an iconic, native species that play a vital role in restoring healthy ecosystems by keeping prey species in balance. Places like the Olympic peninsula and the Colorado Rockies could benefit both ecologically and economically from the return of wolves.
Delisting would close the door on an historic opportunity to revitalize some of America's best remaining wildlife habitat by bringing back these important animals.
Someday, when wolves have recovered throughout most of their historic range, and when states refrain from managing their wolf populations in a biological race to the bottom -- then perhaps delisting is an option worth debating. However, we are far from that day, and delisting now would be an avoidable conservation nightmare.
We urge you in the strongest possible terms to not turn the clock back on one of America's signature wildlife conservation success stories. The future of the species is in your hands.