January 30, 2023

The Great Lakes Wolf Decision

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BerylHowell(Judge Beryl A. Howell. Howell was nominated to the position in 2010 by President Obama, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She is married to Michael Rosenfeld, who served as an executive producer at National Geographic for decades.)

Cat Urbigkit has a fairly in depth article published on Pinedale Online about the ins and outs of the court ruling that placed wolves in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (WGLDPS) back under federal control and the strong arm of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the scrutiny of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

In reading over the court ruling and Urbigkit’s summary of events, seemingly absent from both is the court ordered explanation from the USFWS as to why they have authority, under the Endangered Species Act, to create Distinct Population Segments.

On September 29, 2008, Judge Paul Friedman, in Humane Society of the United States v. Kempthorn, vacated a portion in his rule demanding that the USFWS return to his court with an explanation as to why the USFWS had authority of create Distinct Population Segments (DPS). The bulk of Judge Friedman’s ruling is based on his belief that that the USFWS cannot carve out population segments of any species for the purpose of removing that segment from federal protection under the ESA.

It also appears to me that Judge Beryl Howell traveled down the same path as Friedman did in 2008.

On December 12, 2008, just over two months after Judge Friedman vacated his ruling, the Department of Interior, Solicitor’s Office sent to Friedman’s court a 19-page explanation as to why the USFWS has authority, under the ESA, to create DPSs. This 19-page explanation must have satisfied the Courts because a subsequent attempt by the USFWS to “delist” gray wolves in the WGLDPS was successful. However, now, another hand-picked activist judge, evidently refusing to use the same explanation as Judge Friedman, has declared that the USFWS cannot delist wolves, or any other species I’m assuming, unless said species is removed from ESA protection throughout the entirety of the United States, i.e. the USFWS cannot create a DPS.

Odd isn’t it that two courts have ruled in this manner, that it’s all or nothing and that the USFWS cannot create DPSs for the purpose of removing federal protection but evidently the same USFWS is authorized to create as many DPSs in order place a species on the ESA list. Is there no sanity?

If we go back in history to the establishment of the Endangered Species Act, and to that time when the USFWS declared that gray wolves were an endangered species in all Lower 48 states, with the exception of Minnesota (which was listed as “threatened”), according to Friedman and now Howell, the USFWS did not have authority to do that. Evidently this left the USFWS with the only option of declaring the entire planet gray wolf habitat. But then again, why stop with Earth? Perhaps a Papal Bull would do the trick?

None of this makes much sense and to those whose aim is the protection of wolves at all costs, don’t really care about making sense or implementing previous court rulings in formulating their cases; at least when it doesn’t fit the narrative.

What is probably most unfortunate is that eventually there will be enough people sick and tired of this utter nonsense and they will do as was done in Montana and Idaho and craft Congressional legislation that will remove wolves in the Western Great Lakes from federal protection and block any further lawsuits. This is liable to create a domino effect for many other ESA listed species, i.e. Delta Smelt, Canada lynx, grizzly bears, polar bears, etc. And, eventually this action will come back and bite all of us on the ass.

The utter nonsense of it all.