by Karen Mehall Phillips - Wednesday, May 12, 2021
The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Safari Club International (SCI) report that a federal judge in California has granted their motions to intervene in three anti-hunting lawsuits challenging the delisting of recovered gray wolf populations under the Trump administration. As the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum (HLF) website reported on Apr. 7, gray wolves were removed from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections in the Lower 48 last fall when wildlife science showed their populations had recovered. Instead of celebrating the recovery and returning management authority back to the states, which is what the ESA is designed to accomplish, anti-hunting groups filed suit to prevent the species’ delisting and shut down states’ and tribal wildlife agencies rights to sustainably manage their populations.
The NRA and SCI argued that the California court lacks jurisdiction to hear the cases and that the plaintiffs have not shown how their members are injured by the wolf delisting. The anti-hunting suits were filed in the Northern District of California, though that state has no gray wolves, and the delisting has no impact on the area’s habitat, wildlife populations or communities. If the anti-hunting suits prevail, however, they will derail legal, regulated hunting and wildlife conservation efforts for both gray wolves and prey species, directly and negatively impacting NRA and SCI memberships.
For just one example of how gray wolf populations are thriving in the Lower 48, look at the state of Wisconsin. In February, NRAHLF.org reported that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources opened a weeklong wolf season on Monday, Feb. 22, but closed it 48 hours later because the wolf quota was met.
In giving both hunters and those who live amongst wolves a voice, the NRA and SCI are upholding states’ authority to manage recovered gray wolf populations and will keep readers informed on this issue. The delisting of the gray wolf was only the first step in a process that will not wrap up anytime soon.
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