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Conservation groups sue over gray wolf protections in the Northern Rockies

Posted at 7:06 AM, Apr 09, 2024

HELENA — Ten conservation groups have filed a lawsuit in federal court over the U.S. Fish and Wild Service's (USFWS) decision not to return Endangered Species Act protections to gray wolves in the Northern Rockies.

In February, the USFWS said an assessment using "the best available science" found that gray wolf populations in the West were not at risk of extinction.

According to the decision, USFWS noted that there were at least 2,797 wolves in 286 packs in seven western states and that wolves remained listed as endangered in 44 states.

That ruling prompted nearly a dozen conservation groups, including Trap Free Montana, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and the Western Watersheds Project, to challenge the finding.

In a news release from the Western Environmental Law Center, the groups claim that the USFWS review "ignores obvious threats" and "relies on flawed population models."

The groups also express concerns that current gray wolf management practices in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are too aggressive and that wolf recovery in parts of the western U.S. are progressing slowly and at a pace that leaves these populations vulnerable.

In court documents, the conservation groups are asking the federal court to throw out the USFWS ruling that found Northern Rockies gray wolves did not warrant protection and send the issue back for another review.