Biden Admin Issues Notice of Appeal in Lower 48 Wolf Case

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) filed a Notice of Appeal to challenge a federal judge’s decision to overturn a 2020 USFWS rule removing gray wolves from protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The 2020 rule delisting gray wolves in the continental United States allowed for state fish and wildlife officials to manage and sustain healthy populations of gray wolves throughout their range.

“We commend the Biden administration for stepping up in this case and defending sound wildlife management. This is definitely an item to place on the ‘watch list’ going forward. While the Notice of Appeal is good news, the next step in the process will be the formal filing of an appeal brief by USFWS,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation. “As all hunters know, gray wolves – and all apex predators – remain a key component of the ongoing attack on traditional wildlife management by anti-hunting extremists. This case is not just about wolves, it’s about all of us.”

On Feb. 10, 2022, District Court Judge Jeffery White of the Northern District of California ruled in favor of three radical animal-rights and environmental groups seeking to return wolves in the Lower 48 States (except Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and portions of neighboring states) to protected status. Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council and Wildearth Guardians filed suit against the USFW and Department of Interior seeking to overrule the Trump-era delisting of the apex predators.

Among other points, Judge White found that “the Service’s analysis relied on two core wolf populations to delist wolves nationally and failed to provide a reasonable interpretation of the ‘significant portion of its range’ standard.”

The 26-page ruling issued by District Court Judge White returned wolves throughout the Lower 48 to the endangered/threatened list, except those found in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and portions of neighboring states, which were delisted by Congressional action in 2011.

The appeal of Judge White’s ruling will be to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the 2017 Great Lakes wolf ruling, the court laid out a road map for FWS to delist the Western Great Lakes wolves and dismantled many of the dangerous and unsupported holdings in a lower court decision. That ruling also demonstrated that delisting of Great Lakes wolves by distinct population segment was supported as a way to scientifically manage recovered wolf populations.

About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research.  Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.