WASHINGTON (Oct. 29, 2020) – Today, leaders from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) joined Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Aurelia Skipwith in Minnesota to mark the historic announcement that gray wolves in the contiguous 48 United States have fully recovered and will be returned to state management after having received various levels of protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for nearly 40 years.
Administration officials and stakeholder groups celebrated the announcement as an ESA success story, highlighting the robust populations of wolves that have continued to grow over time and the strong partnerships that made recovery possible.
NCBA Vice President Don Schiefelbein was able to celebrate the announcement in his home state of Minnesota, which has been the stage for a number of the legal and procedural challenges that have plagued previous delisting efforts.
“The recovery and delisting of the gray wolf is an outstanding victory under the Endangered Species Act and should be celebrated accordingly. Today’s announcement is the culmination of decades of work done by cattle producers and landowners nationwide to protect habitat ensuring wolf recovery efforts were successful, even when impacts to their livelihoods were significant,” said National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Vice President and Minnesota rancher Don Schiefelbein. “The road to recovery and delisting has been fraught with purely political lawsuits that promoted emotion over fact, and the facts are clear: the gray wolf population is recovered and states are well-equipped to manage this population. Thank you to President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, Director Skipwith and their team for allowing the science to stand for itself.”
PLC President Niels Hansen also attended the event, lending support to ranching communities who have continued to be affected by significant depredation events as a result of dense wolf populations. Hansen is a rancher in Wyoming, a state whose wolf population was delisted in 2017 after a years-long recovery effort.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for public lands ranchers who have spent decades defending their livestock from wolves while also defending previous delisting rules in court,” said Public Lands Council (PLC) President Niels Hansen. “By returning gray wolves to state management, we are giving long-overdue recognition to a conservation victory under the Endangered Species Act and returning to a state wildlife management model that has demonstrated success for thousands of other species. I look forward to the next chapter in management of this species that allows ranchers, biologists, and government officials to continue to work together for the benefit of our communities, our economies, and our wildlife because the best decisions always come from those closest to the subject.”