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Suit Filed to Challenge Removal of Endangered Species Act Protection From Northern Rockies Wolves


1. This case challenges the decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) to designate the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf a “distinct population segment” and then delist it, despite significant threats to wolves’ survival and a lack of regulatory mechanisms to ensure that the wolf population does not plummet well below sustainable levels. See Final Rule To Identify the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and To Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, 74 Fed. Reg. 15,123 (Apr. 2, 2009) (“Delisting Rule”).

2. Four separate federal district courts have invalidated FWS’s prior attempts to reduce or remove protections for gray wolves in the United States under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), 16 U.S.C. § 1531, et seq. Most recently, this Court enjoined FWS’s 2008 attempt to eliminate protections for gray wolves in the northern Rockies. See Defenders of Wildlife v. Hall, 565 F. Supp. 2d 1160 (D. Mont., July 18, 2008). Notwithstanding FWS’s consistent inability to achieve legitimate wolf recovery, FWS’s drive to remove gray wolves from the federal list of Endangered Species remains unrelenting.

3. A mere two weeks after this Court remanded FWS’s 2008 northern Rockies delisting decision at the agency’s request, FWS reopened the public comment period on the same delisting proposal that resulted in FWS’s unlawful Case 9:09-cv-00077-DWM Document 1 Filed 06/02/2009 Page 2 of 42 2008 delisting decision. The resulting 2009 wolf delisting rule, like its predecessor, is fraught with legal infirmities. While repeating many of the errors of the 2008 rule, the 2009 Delisting Rule creates entirely new violations. Among other things, the 2009 Delisting Rule unlawfully delisted a portion of the northern Rockies wolf population while retaining endangered status for wolves in Wyoming, failed to ensure that the northern Rockies wolf population exhibits genetic connectivity essential to its survival, and will allow the wolf population in Idaho and Montana to decline dramatically on the basis of outdated and inadequate wolf population recovery targets. As a result, the delisted northern Rockies wolf population will never achieve true recovery as envisioned by Congress when it enacted the ESA.

4. In light of these deficiencies, this Court should set aside the Delisting Rule and order that wolves in the northern Rockies be returned to the federal list of threatened and endangered species until their long-term viability is assured.

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