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AG Nessel files brief in lawsuit opposing delisting of gray wolves as endangered species

Posted at 12:59 PM, Jul 26, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have submitted an amicus brief in the Wolf Delisting litigation, fighting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove gray wolves from the list of endangered species.

Nessel had previously urged the service “not to use Michigan’s successful recovery efforts of the species to delist the gray wolf nationwide,” according to a news release Monday.

The brief argues that the service made this move contrary to the Endangered Species Act and to the detriment of gray wolf populations in other states.

Filed Friday in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California, the brief asserts that the service unlawfully delisted gray wolves based on the species’ status in Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

Nessel and Rosenblum say this is improper for three reasons:

  • The service needs to look to a species’ current range – where it currently exists – to determine whether it is endangered;
  • The service must analyze the five statutory factors for delisting for each state in which a species is actually located; and
  • The service may not break a species into recovered populations in a way that cuts out orphan populations that would otherwise be entitled to protection.

“By delisting the gray wolf nationwide, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service abandoned its obligation to protect endangered gray wolves wherever they are found,” Nessel said. “Turning cooperative federalism on its head, the service weaponized our effective wolf recovery in the Great Lakes region against wolf populations struggling to recover in other states. The facts are clear here: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can only use Michigan’s successes in Michigan, not nationwide. Where wolves remain endangered, they must remain listed.”

In the brief, Nessel argues that the Endangered Species Act does not authorize the service to pick and choose where endangered species should recover.

Rather, the service needs to protect gray wolves where they are also currently found – in Washington, Oregon, California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont and Kansas, the brief said.

Read the full submitted brief here.