Today, on behalf of the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, PLF sent a 60-day notice of our intent to sue the Service for failing to reach a final determination on its February 2014 proposal to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to issue a final rule on a proposed change in protection status within one year. The Service is now over two years late meeting that obligation.
This isn’t simply a matter of ensuring statutory timeliness—when the Service drags its heels like this, real people suffer. Gray wolves frequently attack and kill livestock, and the mere presence of wolves can stress cattle so much that it negatively affects their reproduction. This poses a constant threat to the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers in Oregon. As long as the gray wolf remains listed under the ESA, state and local governments are deprived of any authority to develop local, tailored conservation approaches that appropriately balance protection of the gray wolf with the property rights of local citizens.
The Service’s long delay is particularly egregious because it recognizes that the gray wolf as currently listed—all gray wolves in the contiguous United States—does not correspond to a valid species or subspecies and is therefore not a valid listable entity under the ESA. Adding insult to injury, the Service managed to meet its deadline with regard to the Mexican gray wolf, which was proposed for endangered status at the same time the gray wolf was proposed for delisting. The Service issued a final rule on January 16, 2015, confirming the endangered status of the Mexican gray wolf.
What’s holding up the final rule on the gray wolf? If nothing changes within the next 60 days, PLF is poised to file suit. It should not be this difficult to get government agencies to follow the law.