In July, a US judge restored the wolf's protected status: a major victory.
And now, an even bigger victory. The Cheney Administration has announced that it is withdrawing its plan to strip gray wolves of their endangered species protection in the Northern Rockies. This from Natural Resources Defense Council:
Last March, the Bush Administration declared the Northern Rockies' wolf population "fully recovered," then it handed off responsibility for the wolves to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Just as we predicted, a bloodbath ensued, with 110 wolves slaughtered by state agents and hunters in as many days.
NRDC, Earthjustice and 11 other conservation groups raced to court and won an injunction that put a temporary halt to the killing until the full case could be heard. We fully expected to fight a drawn-out courtroom battle in order to win a permanent victory.
But thanks to the Bush Administration's surrender, that battle will NOT happen. Instead, the wolves of Yellowstone and the surrounding region will remain protected by federal law.
That means Wyoming, Montana and Idaho will NOT be allowed to begin the extermination of hundreds of wolves this fall as part of a massive public hunt -- the first in more than three decades. Instead, those wolves will continue to roam the Rockies -- wild and free -- as nature and the law intended!
Why did U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials throw in the towel? They had to face up to the fact that their case against wolf protection would never hold up in court. Above all, they ignored the best available science showing that wolf populations had not fully recovered.
In the end, the Administration had little choice but to put its tail between its legs and beat a hasty retreat.
Make no mistake: the fight doesn't end here. You can be sure the federal government will be back soon enough with a new plan. And the states will learn their lessons and return with yet another scheme for killing wolves.
But you can be equally sure that, with your help, NRDC will stand vigilant, fully prepared to meet and turn back any new and deadly threat.
In the meantime, please join me and all of us here at NRDC in celebrating this red-letter day in the storied history of the Endangered Species Act. It happened because you and thousands of others chose to stand up in defense of embattled wildlife. Thank you!
It's nice to celebrate a victory now and again.
More photos on some of the earlier posts, linked above.