Animal Rights Groups Unite to Get Wolves the Protection They Need

This week a number of animal advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Department of the Interior to restore federal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region, which were removed last year.

The lawsuit, which was brought by the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live, Friends of Animals, argues that the decision to delist wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan before they are completely recovered will not only threaten current populations of wolves, but will prevent their dispersal to currently uninhabited parts of their historic range, reports the AP.

“In the short time since federal protections have been removed, trophy hunters and trappers have killed hundreds of Great Lakes wolves under hostile state management programs that encourage dramatic reductions in wolf populations,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at The HSUS. “This decision rolls back the only line of defense for wolf populations, and paves the way for the same state-sponsored eradication policies that pushed this species to the brink of extinction in the first place.”

More than 1,000 wolves have been slaughtered this year in the Northern Rockies since they were stripped of their protection under the Endangered Species Act. Hunters and trappers killed 413 in Minnesota and 117 in Wisconsin in less than four months. Minnesota had promised a five year moratorium on wolf hunting if they were delisted, but that plan was quickly trashed by legislators.

“Wolf populations are just at the threshold of rebounding in many areas across the Great Lakes Region,” said Linda Hatfield, executive director of Help Our Wolves Live. “The recent delisting has taken the wolf back to the old days, days before the ESA, the days of state-sponsored bounty payments to hunters and trappers that were intended to eliminate wolves from the landscape.”

Hunters and trappers have been authorized to use a variety of cruel and brutal methods to kill wolves from night hunting and the use of dogs, to baiting and using snares and leghold traps.

In December, Michigan designated wolves as a game species after 50 years of protection and handed management over to the state’s Natural Resources Commission, which could mean wolf hunting and trapping in the state this fall. Wolf advocates are currently collecting signatures to stop the hunt and bring the issue to voters.

“The Endangered Species Act is popularly considered one of the most powerful conservation laws on the books, but it is rendered impotent if species are not allowed to recover fully across the breadth of their range before delisting,” said Adam Roberts, executive vice president of Born Free USA. “Simply put, the gray wolf still requires protection under the Act.”

The FWS has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit. Meanwhile, its considering a proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protection for all wolves in the Lower 48, with the possible exception of the Mexican gray wolf – a move that has many worried it will completely derail recovery efforts across the country.


Related Stories:

Pointless Trophy Hunting: Less Than Two Months to Save Michigan’s Wolves

Wolves Killed in Snares Outside of Alaska National Park

Judge Okays Wolf Hunting with Dogs in Wisconsin


Photo credit: Thinkstock


donald Baumgartner

Petition closed, but The issue will remain in debate.

Michael Guest
Michael Guest5 years ago

The fight will continue. We can't let that Service get away with this. The wolves have not recovered, and still need help seriously. They deserve to stay protected. No giving up.

Kate H.
Kate H5 years ago

I am so tired of wolves getting treated so poorly. This battle has been going on for so long it seems, I just wish people wouldn't get so much encouragement to kill them. It's kind of obvious that if you set up a livestock ranch in/near the habitat of predatory animals, those animals are going to try to eat the livestock. It's not the wolves' fault that the farms were built there, what the hell are they supposed to do about it? They don't know what we use livestock for. They don't hate humans. They just see something edible and go after it, which is exactly what they're supposed to do. It's no different than if you put a plate of cookies up on a table in front of a 2-year-old human child, and the child tries to take the cookies. You can't blame the kid, because it's your own fault you put the cookies within their reach.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Rosemary Lowe

Until The Livestock Industry is off All National Forest, Wilderness areas, Wildlife Refuges, BLM and State Lands (these are all Public Lands, grazed at the expense of wildlife), there will be No Protection for Wolves or any other wild animals.

Rosemary Lowe

Mark, well said!
I just saw this article today: Please go to --it is The Center for Biological Diversity. This is just a portion of the article. Than Livestock Industry and Hunters (often one and the same) are not going to rest until Every Wolf is exterminated--even in Yellowstone!

"The attacks on wolves are mounting: On Friday Washington's state senate passed a bill allowing livestock owners to kill endangered wolves and other predators without permits, even if they are not attacking livestock.

There are two more wolf-eradication bills proposed in Washington, where wolves are only just beginning to find a foothold, establish families and recover. Unfortunately, what's happening in Washington state is part of a growing special-interest effort to drive wolves off the American landscape. We urgently need your help to stop these attacks."

We must all work, now, to Get All Livestock Off Public Lands, period. Most ranchers cannot make it without government lands and the subsequent subsidies that go with it. Please sign this and share with everyone on Facebook, etc.

Mark Donners
Mark Donner5 years ago

"Fish and Wildlife Services" should be declared a domestic terrorist organization. They are a dangerous threat to society.

Geri Mellgren-Kerwin

Claudia, I feel your pain too. It may seem useless but petitions have worked in the past and they will again, so don't give up signing. The men who hate wolves hate them for the same reasons as their grandfathers. Wolves are a potential threat to cattle and sheep. Even when the government compensates ranchers who lose animals to wolf predation, the hatred just steams along, just like hatred always does. These guys aren't smart enough to understand the arguments of scientists and environmentalists who tell them wolves are a vital part of the ecosystem and that the natural world suffers in many ways when a key species is eliminated. We have to stop voting in dumb guys and gals and kick them out of government agencies too. I voted twice for Obama, but he has a crappy record on the environment. This means we have to push him harder to get him to stop the cruelty to horses and wolves.

Muriel Servaege
Muriel S5 years ago

Good initiative. But it's a pity such things have to be done to protect wolves.

Claudia Cavallo
Claudia Cavallo5 years ago

Katherine, you wrote a nice comment, compliments, I too spend a lot fo time signing petitions and I often feel like it's useless, the more I sign the more I read horrible stories of cruelty against animals. Who are we to decide what to do woth animals? Animals are not here for us, but we act like we are God, I'm so sick of all this cruelty