Grijalva Leads Letter to Interior Sec. Jewell Signed by 86 House Members Urging Continued Gray Wolf Endangered Species Protection
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released a letter co-signed by 85 House Democratic and Republican colleagues urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to continue offering Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection to gray wolves across the United States. The letter, available at http://1.usa.gov/1d9UUpD, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should reconsider the proposal it released in June to continue ESA protections only for the Mexican gray wolf, which is classified as a distinct subspecies.
The letter reads in part:
Except for a few pockets of survivors, wolves were essentially eliminated from the western United States in the early 20th century. Millions of dollars have been spent to restore wolves to their native habitats. The protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act allowed their numbers to expand in the West and in the Great Lakes. Scientists have identified excellent, suitable habitats for introduction in the Pacific Northwest, California, Colorado, Utah and the Northeast. Maintaining federal protection for wolves is essential for continued species recovery.
We are concerned that the same prejudice towards wolves that led to their extirpation across most of the country is still present today. This attitude threatens to undo the gains achieved in the northern Rocky Mountains and western Great Lakes and may prevent their full recovery in additional areas of significant unoccupied suitable habitat. Federal policy must address this.
The letter also questions a related proposal to restrict Mexican gray wolf habitats within very strict boundaries in the Southwest:
We applaud the reclassification of the Mexican gray wolf in the Southwest as a distinct subspecies and its continued protection as an endangered population. However, we are concerned about a related proposal – released simultaneously – that undercuts this new listing by requiring the wolves to stay in specific boundaries, preventing needed natural dispersal. Recent peer-reviewed research indicates that Mexican wolves, with a current wild population of only 75 individuals, will need multiple populations in new areas and wide dispersal over time in order to recover.
The bipartisan letter is being sent to Jewell ahead of an expected decision next year.