California Judge Restores Protection For Gray Wolves For Most of the Country, Reversing Trump Policy


A federal judge has flexed his muscles and restored protections for gray wolves across much of the country on Thursday, reversing a decision that President Trump made in the last months of his presidency. His administration stripped Endangered Species Act protections from the creatures, arguing that their population was robust enough to handle current practices of natural death and hunting and that states, not the federal government, should be in charge of managing their wolf populations.

Figures for Montana

The decision comes after Defenders for Wildlife sued the Interior Department, arguing that the agency wasn’t relying on the best science when they made their decision and that they were failing to consider other threats to wolves, which would irrevocably harm their rebounding from widespread extermination over the last 100 years. California U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White agreed and rolled it back, immediately imposing safeguards on wolf populations and putting federal officials in charge of managing them, writing in his decision:

The Service failed to adequately consider the threats to wolves outside of the core populations in the Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains in delisting the entire species.

Surprisingly, President Biden’s lawyers defended Trump’s earlier decision, arguing that even if the population of wolves dropped precipitously, they were resilient enough to bounce back. Thankfully, this decision does not affect some states, like Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, which remain under state jurisdiction after congress lifted federal protection about a decade ago. As of 2020, Montana’s wolf population sat at a little under 850.

Still, Biden officials are reviewing whether or not they’ll list gray wolves as an endangered species, which would overrule much of Montana’s policies. Luke Hilgemann, president and CEO of Hunter Nation, a hunting advocacy group criticized the decision for failing to consider how this would impact ranchers and farmers who find their flocks threatened by these predators, saying:

“We are disappointed that an activist judge from California decided to tell farmers, ranchers, and anyone who supports a balanced ecosystem with common-sense predator management that he knows better than them.”


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