Wolves Galore: Group Tries to Take a Bite Out of Palin

Battle lines over wolves are being drawn from Alaska to the Great Lakes.

The animal preservation group, Defenders of Wildlife, has mounted an all out assault on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin over the state’s wolf management program. Meanwhile, the Humane Society of the United States is working to get the Obama Administration to rescind the delisting of several gray wolf populations approved by former President George W. Bush.

On February 2, 2009, Defenders of Wildlife (DoW) unleashed a broadside against former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The group began a website, Eye on Palin, using actress Ashley Judd to criticize Gov. Palin for Alaska’s wolf management plan. Judd said, “I am outraged by Sarah Palin’s promotion of this cruel, unscientific and senseless practice which has no place in modern America.”

Gov. Palin did not sit back and take the abuse, however. On February 3, Palin issued a press release saying, “It is reprehensible and hypocritical that the Defenders of Wildlife would use Alaska and my administration as a fundraising tool to deceive Americans into parting with their hard-earned money.” Palin goes on to defend the state’s wildlife management policies as essential to protecting vulnerable populations of caribou and moose from predators.

The President of DoW’s political wing, Rodger Schlickeisen, issued a statement saying, “Sarah Palin isn’t fading into the background, so neither are we.” The campaign has already made national news with a segment on February 5th’s Today Show.

While Gov. Palin confronts criticism, another fight over wolves is taking place under the radar.

In its last days in office, the Bush Administration announced its intent to again remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern Rockies from endangered status under the Endangered Species Act. If the decision stands, states in those areas will be allowed to implement their own wolf management plans. However, it is not certain what position the new Obama Administration will take on the issue.

The Humane Society of the United States is pushing the Obama Administration to rescind the rules. A spokesperson for the President has indicated the administration, “will review all 11th-hour regulations.”

In the past, new administrations have rescinded late rule changes they have inherited from their predecessors.