AG Nessel speaks out against removing gray wolf protections

Dana Nessel

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya File)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Both MI Attorney General Dana Nessel and OR Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have both advocated against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (the Service) decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list.

According to a release from the Office of the Attorney General, Nessel and Rosenblum filed a brief on Friday in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California, stating that the Service only delisted gray wolves based upon gray wolf population numbers in Michigan and other states by the Great Lakes.

Nessel continues on to argue that the Endangered Species Act does not give the Service the authority to decide which species should be protected.

Gray wolves exist in other states such as Washington, Oregon, California, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Kansas- and due to their current population numbers, are required to be protected in those respective states by the Service.

The Service’s decision was deemed improper by Nessel and Rosenblum for three reasons:

  • The Service must look to a species’ current range, i.e., 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
  • 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. 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 state. 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.” 

MI Attorney General Dana Nessel

This is not the first time Nessel has addressed issues regarding the gray wolf population. In 2019, Nessel asked the Service to not delist gray wolves, as they were then only focusing on gray wolf populations in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The gray wolf was subsequently removed from the endangered species list in 2020. A legal battle regarding the decision is currently ongoing.

To read the brief filed by Nessel and Rosenblum in its entirety, click here.

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