For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 5, 2011
Michael Garrity, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, 406-459-5936 or email@example.com
Gary MacFarlane, Friends of the Clearwater, 208-882-9755, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicole Rosmarino, WildEarth Guardians, 505-699-7404 or email@example.com
Conservation Groups Challenge Wolf Delisting Rider
Lawsuit Seeks to Restore Federal Protection to Gray Wolves in Northern Rockies
Missoula, MT—May 5. Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, and WildEarth Guardians today filed suit in federal court in Montana against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for delisting wolves in Montana, Idaho, and portions of Utah, Washington, and Oregon. The Service published the delisting rule today in compliance with a Congressional budget rider passed on April 15.
“We will not allow the fate of endangered species to be determined by politicians serving special interests,” stated Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. “These decisions must be based on science, not politics, and Congress has never before removed species from the Endangered Species list by political fiat. There is a well-established legal process that applies to every other species and pure political expediency should not be the driving force over which of our nation’s imperiled animals and plants will or will not be protected for future generations.”
The groups charge in their complaint that the delisting rider, which was sponsored by Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson, violates the U.S. Constitution because it specifically repeals a judicial decision. While Congress has the right to make and amend laws, the wolf delisting rider (Section 1713 of the budget law, PL 112-10) does not amend the Endangered Species Act — it circumvents the judicial process by ordering the reinstatement of the 2009 rule that delisted wolves.
“The rider goes against a bedrock principle of our democracy: checks and balances between branches of government,” said Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. “Legislators can’t pick off specific court decisions they don’t like. That’s not fair for the wolf, and it’s certainly not good for our democracy.”
The 2009 rule that delisted wolves was challenged by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and 12 other organizations on the basis that it violated the Endangered Species Act by revoking protection for wolves based on the political boundaries of state lines. Montana Federal Judge Donald Molloy agreed with the conservation groups and determined last August that the 2009 rule was illegal and struck down the 2007 Interior Solicitor’s legal memo on which it was based.
The current Interior Solicitor, Hilary Tompkins, revoked the illegal 2007 memo yesterday, but the withdrawal of the illegal memo came too late for wolves in the Northern Rockies. Those wolves are now facing drastic policies at the state level. Montana announced earlier this week that it will likely allow up to 220 of the 566 wolves in the state to be killed this year. In late April, Idaho passed a law declaring a gray wolf “disaster emergency” that gives the governor broad discretion to allow wolf killing statewide.
Killing proposals at the local level – the Lolo Elk Management Zone in Idaho and the West Fork of the Bitterroot in Montana – would permit over half of the resident wolves to be killed. The conservation groups filing today’s lawsuit against the delisting rider are also challenging those local wolf-killing plans.
“We are doing all we can to hold back the tide of wolf-killing in Montana, Idaho, and elsewhere in the Northern Rockies,” said Gary Macfarlane of Friends of the Clearwater, who explained that Idaho’s Fish and Game Department are planning on using aerial gunning to immediately begin killing wolves in the Clearwater basin. “This ecologically important species is being unfairly targeted out of ignorance and intolerance and now lack a federal shield from being killed.”
There has been widespread concern over tacking policy riders on the budget bill. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sent a letter to President Obama in late April stating: “A six-month budget resolution negotiated through backroom discussions is clearly the wrong vehicle to make permanent changes to significant public policy. For nearly 40 years, the Endangered Species Act has assured decisions about our nation’s natural heritage are driven by science, fish and wildlife professionals, and public input. Removing protection for an endangered species by congressional mandate, much less through a budget bill, stands in unprecedented contrast to this history. This action erodes the integrity of the ESA, excludes important public involvement, and usurps the agency structure, based on a balancing of executive and legislative branch power, that exists to undertake important decisions affecting America’s wildlife.”
“We’re back in court for two reasons,” concluded Garrity. “First and foremost, it’s to continue to protect wolves from indiscriminate slaughter. Second, someone has to stand up when the basic tenets of our government are under attack by unscrupulous politicians and that would be the Alliance, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians.”
Environmental groups sue government over wolf delisting
Photo: Courtesy Wolfgang Art Gallery free wolf photos
Posted in: Action Alerts, gray wolf
Tags: challenging wolf delisting rider, wolves going back to court, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater, WildEarth Guardians