Cross Posted from Animal Connection
WASHINGTON— In two sharply worded letters sent to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today, prominent scientists argued for continued protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states and criticized a draft federal proposal to remove those protections for being premature and failing to follow the best available science. One of the letters came from the American Society of Mammalogists, the other from 16 prominent biologists.
“The science simply doesn’t support removal of protections for wolves,” said Dr. Brad Bergstrom with the American Society of Mammalogists. “Wolves are altogether absent or barely beginning to recover in large swathes of the country that still contain excellent habitat.”
Signatories to the letter include several scientists who conducted research that’s relied on by the government in its draft proposed rule. Those scientists are now criticizing the agency for misrepresenting their work, stating: “Collectively, we represent many of the scientists responsible for the research referenced in the draft rule,” and “We do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves.”
“No animal is more important to the North American landscape than gray wolves,” said Bergstrom. “The science shows that wolves are not yet recovered in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rockies and the Northeast.”
As noted in the scientists’ letter, research conducted following the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park found that wolves “caused changes in elk numbers and behavior which then facilitated recovery of streamside vegetation, benefitting beavers, fish and songbirds.”
“In these two letters, scientists are simply asking the administration to acknowledge what the research clearly shows — that gray wolves are far from recovered,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s still time to reverse course and do what’s best for these beautiful animals and the landscape we all share.”
Earlier this month, leaders of six national environmental groups also sent Jewell a letter urging her to keep wolf protections in place and last week, Representative Raúl Grijalva sent a similar letter.