Science Says Stop: Fed Plan to Delist Wolves Panned by Expert Panel

An independent scientific peer review panel has unanimously concluded that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did not use the best available science to support its proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the contiguous United States (see Winter 2014 AWI Quarterly). The review was commissioned by USFWS and conducted by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The panel found that the delisting proposal gave undue weight to a single preliminary publication—one that was not, in fact, widely accepted by the scientific community. The panelists identified additional scientific research that should be considered before any decision is made to change the listing status of gray wolves. Steven Courtney, who chaired the NCEAS panel, called the results of the review “unequivocal.”

Previously, in defending the delisting proposal, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel disavowed any discretion in the matter, stating that “It's about science and you do what the science says." Now that science is clamoring to be heard, we hope that’s true. USFWS Director Dan Ashe issued a statement on February 7 indicating that in light of the report, the agency planned to reopen the public comment period until March 27.