Federal court rules against removing gray wolf from endangered list

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Aug. 1, 2017 at 12:35 PM
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Aug. 1 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court has ruled against a decision by former President Barack Obama's administration six years ago to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in several states.

The judges on the court vacated the decision to delist the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan -- as well as in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- from the Endangered Species Act.

The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulators "failed to reasonably analyze or consider two significant aspects of the rule -- the impacts of partial delisting and of historical range loss on the already listed species."

The 2011 decision argued gray wolf populations in those states and areas were "significant" and that disease and humans did not pose a threat to the species. The Humane Society of the United States filed a lawsuit over the decision and a 2014 federal district court ruled against the Obama administration's effort.

The HSUS said the Obama-era decision "threatened the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining current wolf populations to a small pockets of their former range."

President Donald Trump's Interior Department has not indicated whether it will appeal Tuesday's ruling.

"A federal appeals court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed," Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at the HSUS, said in a statement. "Congress should respect the ruling relating to the management of wolves in the Great Lakes and allow the Fish and Wildlife Service to re-examine the broader conservation questions raised by the courts."

The Obama-era decision dropped federal protections for the animal and handed their management back over to the states, which allowed the gray wolf to be hunted in the Great Lakes region for the first time in 40 years.

Last week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bill that would delist the wolf and prohibit judicial review as the House considers similar measures.

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