A coalition of agriculture and forestry groups filed court documents last week arguing the gray wolf has sufficiently recovered and no longer needs to be listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

The coalition, which includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest Resource Council, American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, and Public Lands Council, moved to intervene in three lawsuits challenging the delisting, filed by environmental groups in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. 

In November 2020, the Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the gray wolf in the continental United States because its population had reached conservation goals, but conservation and animal welfare groups contend the service’s data do not show that the wolf has recovered in all states. 

The coalition is defending the delisting because “it recognizes the successful recovery of the wolf, and enables responsible wildlife management and protection of private property by farmers, ranchers, and forest resource users,” according to a statement put out by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

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The coalition presented personal stories to the court about the effects of an unchecked gray wolf population on livestock ranchers and farmers, as well as on other wildlife. Joe Wilebski, a cattle producer from Minnesota, said he lost 26 calves to gray wolves in only one year, and the depredation stresses his calves, reducing their economic viability. 

According to the AFBF, the gray wolf population has exceeded recovery goals by more than 300%. AFBF President Zippy Duvall said “with the gray wolf population now thriving, it is time to celebrate this success and turn management over to the states, which can oversee the species in a way that is most appropriate for each region.”

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