Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Fight over American wolf conservation goes before federal judge

Billings, Mont. — A US government lawyer urged a federal judge on Friday to uphold a Trump administration ruling that raised protections for gray wolves in much of the country, as Republican-led states ramp up hunting through aggressive There is a demand to reduce the number of wolves. to trap

Wildlife advocates argued that state-sponsored hunting could quickly reverse the gray wolf’s recovery over the past several decades in large areas of the West and Midwest.

They want US District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, to put the wolves back under the legal shield of the Endangered Species Act, which is meant to protect the animals from extinction.

Federal officials argue that wolves are resilient enough to bounce back even when their numbers decline sharply due to intense hunting. He says that now there is no need for security.

At stake is the future of a species whose recovery from near-extinction has been heralded as a historic conservation success. That recovery has also dealt a bitter blow to hunters and farmers angered by wolf attacks on large game herds and livestock.

Friday’s hearing focused on a much more mysterious, legal issue: were wolves properly classified under the Endangered Act before losing their protected status last year?

A US Justice Department attorney said they were not because of a 1978 change to the act by Congress. This means the wolves at issue do not form a valid “species” which is different from a small number of wolves not included in the November ruling. To lift protection by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Congress was very clear in the statute: If that species isn’t there, the service doesn’t have the ability to regulate it,” said Michael Eitel of the Justice Department’s Department of Natural Resources.

Judge White questioned whether the government’s approach is to remove security as a “backdoor”.

Eatel responded by saying the Wildlife Service was “not trying to meet its obligations” to recover the wolves, but lawyers for the wildlife groups insisted.

“They can’t take this shortcut,” said Kristen Boyles with EarthJustice, representing wildlife defenders and other groups. “One of the casualties of the Fish and Wildlife Service argument is that we are not here today talking about the major issues that protect wolves from where those protections are needed.”

White did not immediately issue a decision.

The lawsuit does not cover wolves in all or part of six states in the northern US Rocky Mountains, where the animals lost protection a decade ago.

Federal officials in September said they would consider whether those protections should be restored in western states in response to loosened hunting regulations in Idaho and Montana. This may take a year or more.

In Wisconsin, where poachers exceeded a state crop quota last winter and killed 218 wolves in just four days, this season’s hunting was recently halted by a state judge two weeks before the start Was.

Conservatives from a state wildlife board had set the Wisconsin kill limit at 300 wolves, prompting a federal lawsuit from wildlife advocacy groups and a half-dozen Chippewa tribes that hold wolves sacred.

A state agency controlled by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers later took the unprecedented step of unilaterally lowering the kill limit to 130 wolves, openly disregarding the board.

Wolves once engulfed most of the Americas, but were largely wiped out in the 1930s as part of government-sponsored poisoning and trapping campaigns.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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