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article imageGroup sues Interior Department for gray wolf recovery plan

By Lynn Herrmann     Dec 23, 2010 in Environment
Washington - The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a lawsuit to institute a national recovery plan for gray wolves throughout much of the lower 48 states of the US.
In a press release, the environmental group noted the Endangered Species Act requires such a plan and that plan should have been created 30 years ago or more. Before the notice of intent to sue (pdf) was filed this week,the Center had submitted a scientific petition to the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service in July requesting the national recovery plan be created. The government agency never responded to the request.
Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center, said in the press release: “Wolves are an integral part of this country’s natural history and need a national recovery plan now.”
If instituted, a national recovery plan would establish new goals while being the foundation for helping existing wolf populations and also helping reintroduce gray wolves to some of their historic range throughout the lower 48 states.
According to the press release, satisfactory habitat in the US for the gray wolf exists in the southern Rocky Mountains, Great Plains, New England, Great Basin, Pacific Northwest and California areas.
“Although wolves have made important strides toward recovery in parts of the northern Rockies and Great Lakes, these areas represent less that 5 percent of their historic range. We call on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stop playing politics and use his legal authority to do right by the wolf,” Greenwald added in the press release.
Outdated recovery plans have been a source of much confusion in recent years and some states with wolf populations demanding the removal of federal protections for the wolves. Lawsuits by the Center and other environmental groups are the reason courts have “repeatedly rebuffed” these demands, the press release states.
“It is time for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to chart a new course for wolf recovery. This plan is badly needed to establish new goals and management for existing wolf populations and as a blueprint for establishing wolves in additional areas,” Greenwald continued in the release.
Since being reintroduced into the Yellowstone National Park ecosystem, studies show wolves have proven to be a keystone species, a benefit to their prey populations through the culling of sick animals as well as preventing overpopulation of its prey. In addition, the wolves benefit other species. By controlling coyote populations, the wolves benefit pronghorn and foxes. Beavers and songbirds also benefit due to the wolves’ natural ability to spread browsing elk, allowing streamside vegetation to recover.
“The Department of the Interior’s failure to develop a national recovery strategy for the wolf, as it has for other species like the bald eagle, has led to tremendous confusion and hampered true wolf recovery,” Greenwald added. “Wolves have been an integral part of North American landscapes for millions of years and are cherished, iconic animals that deserve a certain future in this country.”
More about Gray wolves, Center for biological diversity, Lawsuit
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