Elena Tillman: The federal government needs to protect wolves

  • This Nov. 7, 2017, file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a wolf in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. The Humane Society and other groups filed a legal petition May 26 asking Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to use her emergency authority to return thousands of wolves in the region to the endangered species list. Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service via AP, File

Published: 1/19/2022 9:24:21 AM
Modified: 1/19/2022 9:23:20 AM

The recent news that 20 wolves from Yellowstone National Park have been killed by hunters and trappers is heartbreaking evidence of the need for the U.S. Department of the Interior to finally act and protect these wolves as senators, congresspeople, scientists, a former director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, tribal leaders, and activists have been imploring them to do.

Hunters in Montana can sit just feet outside of Yellowstone National Park using bait and recorded calls to lure wolves out of the protected area to their deaths. In Montana, they can kill as many as 20 wolves each (10 by gun and 10 by trap). In Idaho, there is no limit.

The Biden administration could have prevented this slaughter and must act before it gets worse.

In August, Dan Ashe (the former director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service under President Obama) wrote a Washington Post op-ed urging Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to act and issue emergency protections for gray wolves as permitted under the Endangered Species Act. Mr. Ashe outlined exactly why she should act and under what authority.

To date, President Biden and Secretary Haaland have ignored the former USFWS director and his pleas to act. He followed up in December with a letter signed by directors of zoos and aquariums in his role as CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This also has been ignored by Biden and Haaland.

We learned last year that Haaland has twice opted out of scheduled meetings with tribal leaders seeking to speak with her in support of relisting gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act and engaging in tribal consultations before any future policy decisions are made.

Haaland and Biden owe the country better. In her role as secretary of the Department of the Interior, Haaland is entrusted with the caretaking of our natural spaces and the species that live in them. She is not living up to that mandate.

Please join me in writing to the Department of Interior at doi.gov and ask that Secretary Haaland finally act to stop this unsustainable killing of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies before it is too late. It took our nation decades to bring these wolves back. Idaho and Montana can destroy this progress in just months if the Biden administration continues to ignore them.

Elena Tillman lives in South Hadley.

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