Lawsuit Call For USFWS To Develop National Wolf Recovery Plan, Says Piecemeal Policy Violates ESA

The Center for Biological Diversity notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week that it intends “to sue over the agency’s failure to develop a national wolf recovery plan as required by the Endangered Species Act.” The planned lawsuit would seek to require the Service to draft a recovery plan that includes all populations of wolves in the contiguous United States.

“The Service’s piecemeal approach isn’t enough to protect and restore wolves,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center. “By not completing a national recovery plan, which it’s legally required to do, the agency has failed wolves and the millions of people who want these amazing animals to thrive across the country.”

The notice to sue is here.

The Center filed a petition in 2010 requesting that the Service prepare a national recovery plan. So far, the agency’s approach has focused on individual wolf populations in separate geographic areas, instead of looking at both current and potential wolf habitat, and all existing populations in the lower 48 states.

In 2019 the Service denied this petition. This week’s notice of intent to sue challenges that denial and the Service’s failure to prepare a national recovery plan. The planned lawsuit would also challenge the Service’s failure to complete the required five-year status review of the species in a timely manner. The last review was completed more than a decade ago.

“We’ve seen time and time again that when the Endangered Species Act is implemented properly it really works,” said Ressler. “We’re asking the Service to comply with the law and allow the Act to truly work for wolves.”

The Endangered Species Act requires that parties submit a 60-day notice of intent to sue before a lawsuit can be filed. If the Service fails to remedy its legal violations within 60 days, the Center says it will file a formal lawsuit

A rule finalized in November 2020 removed all Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves nationwide. A federal court vacated this rule and restored species protection in the lower 48 states. These protections do not extend to the Rocky Mountain population, which are currently not protected under the Act. The Center and its allies recently filed a lawsuit to restore those protections.

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