Supporting Federal De-Listing of the Gray Wolf
Humane Society of the United States v. Zinke
In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) published a Final Rule removing the Western Great Lakes gray wolf population from protected status under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The Final Rule was grounded in both law and fact, and was the product of a thorough evaluation of public comments, peer reviews, and the best available scientific and commercial data. The Final Rule allowed Wisconsin to manage its wolf population in a manner that reduced losses from depredation, or wolf attacks on domestic animals, while also ensuring the wolf species was not placed at risk.
On December 19, 2014, the district court vacated the Final Rule. Wisconsin was no longer able to use lethal control to protect its citizens’ livestock from wolf attacks, and Wisconsin taxpayers once again assumed a greater financial burden in compensating people for depredation losses. The State appealed that decision, seeking to restore the Rule, and argued that FWS acted consistently with the text and purpose of the ESA and the District Court would have reached the correct result had it observed the standards of deference to agency expertise.
Status: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the District Court's ruling.