Congressman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) recently issued the following statement at the conclusion of a call with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in which he pushed for emergency reinstatement of Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf.
“While I appreciate that Secretary Haaland took the time today to discuss the survival of the gray wolf, I came away from the discussion disappointed. I stressed to her the dire need to issue an emergency relisting protection for the gray wolf under her authority through the Endangered Species Act. The Secretary assured me that she understood my grave concerns regarding the current slaughter of gray wolves happening in several states, yet she would not commit to declaring an emergency relisting.
“There is simply no reason for Secretary Haaland to continue a Trump-era policy that threatens the existence of a species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last September that it would perform a year-long review to determine if relisting is warranted, given the tremendous number of killings that have occurred in less than a year, with no end in sight. If she chose to act today, the Secretary’s emergency authority would relist the species for 240 days, protecting the gray wolf nearly to the day that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would issue the results of their review. Considering this, I am frankly dumbfounded that she would not invoke emergency relisting now. Waiting until next September to determine if gray wolves should be relisted does nothing to protect them in the interim.
“In January 2021, the Trump administration stripped ESA protections for the gray wolf. Northern Rockies gray wolves have been without protection since 2011. Once delisted, states have rushed to pass laws to allow the extensive killing of wolves using exceptionally cruel methods. Idaho enacted laws that allow nearly unlimited killing of wolves, which could decimate the state’s wolf population by nearly 90 percent. Montana’s new law could reduce their population by 85 percent. Sadly, Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Services has authorized the inhumane killings of gray wolf pups, which are no threat to livestock. At least fifteen wolves were killed recently when they crossed the boundary of Yellowstone National Park, where they are protected, into Montana.
“Gray wolves are a keystone species. This means that once this species is removed, ecosystems drastically change and, in some cases, completely collapse. The restoration of ecosystems in Yellowstone National Park once wolves were reintroduced proves this. We cannot allow the gray wolf to be hunted into extinction. We depend on this predator for environmental health.
“Secretary Haaland has the power to immediately relist the gray wolf using emergency authority, and I strongly urged her to take this action. I am disappointed she has chosen to delay this vital action to stop the slaughter. It has taken decades to bring this species back from near extinction. Their survival depends on her immediate action. If the Administration fails to act now, we may not have another chance to save the gray wolf.”