Kimberly Baker, Public Lands Advocate
Wolf coalition launches challenge to nationwide wolf delisting
On Friday, Nov. 6, EPIC and a coalition of Western wolf advocates filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, launching a challenge of the agency’s decision to prematurely strip wolves of federal protections in the contiguous 48 states, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. This notice starts a 60-day clock, after which the groups will file a lawsuit in federal court.
The most recent data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its state partners show an estimated 4,400 wolves inhabit the western Great Lakes states, but only 108 wolves in Washington state, 158 in Oregon, and a scant 15 in California. Nevada, Utah, and Colorado have had a few wolf sightings over the past three years, but wolves remain functionally extirpated in these states. These numbers lay the groundwork for a legal challenge planned by a coalition of Western conservation groups.
In delisting wolves, the Service ignores the science showing they are not recovered in the West. The Service concluded that because, in its belief, there are sufficient wolves in the Great Lakes states, it does not matter that wolves in the West are not yet recovered. The ESA demands more, including restoring the species in the ample suitable habitats afforded by the wild public lands throughout the West. Indeed, wolves are listed as endangered under state laws in Washington and California, and wolves only occupy a small portion of available, suitable habitat in Oregon. Likewise, wolves also remain absent across vast swaths of their historical, wild, public lands habitat in the West, including in Colorado and the southern Rockies.
Lassen Pack Has Two Litters of Pups
Two female wolves in the Lassen Pack had litters this spring, bringing the total of pups to a minimum of nine. LAS01F, the original matriarch of the family, birthed at least five and LAS09F, her two-year old daughter, had up to four. The new alpha male, who joined the pack last year, sired both litters. The origin of the black male is yet unknown. While multiple litters are uncommon, they most often happen when a genetically unrelated adult wolf joins a new pack.
There is now only one collared wolf in California, LAS09, the two-year-old breeding female of the pack. The yearling male LAS13M, collared this summer, began to disperse from the pack in August. He spent a few weeks about 20 miles from his pack then traveled to Modoc County in late September. In early October he entered Oregon.
This is the fourth litter of pups for LAS01F. Her first litter of four was in 2017, with five in 2018 and four in 2019. Currently the pack consists of three adults, three yearlings and nine pups, bringing the Lassen pack to fifteen.
My name is Matt Simmons and I’m EPIC’s newest legal fellow. I became passionate about protecting the environment thanks to my elementary school science teacher, Mr. Flint, who taught me about climate change and the devastating effect that our current society is having on ecosystems across the globe. In college, I decided that the best way for me to help protect the environment would be to become a lawyer and work on its behalf.
Last May, I graduated from UCLA Law with specializations in both Environmental Law and Public Interest Law. While there, I interned at the Natural Resources Defense Council, participated in UCLA Law’s Environmental Legal Clinic, and acted as a research assistant for a renowned environmental law professor. I also wrote papers on dam removal, green gentrification, and legal personhood for the environment. After I graduated, I was fortunate enough to receive fellowship funding to work at EPIC from the Emmett Institute and the UC Office of the President.
Now that I am at EPIC, I am excited to help advocate for the protection of California’s forests. In particular, to work on matters related to the Endangered Species Act, which is my favorite environmental law. EPIC has a long history of protecting endangered species that I am thrilled to be a part of. I know I have a lot to learn from Tom, Amber, Kimberly, and Rhiannon about how to be a successful environmental advocate. They’ve had so much great success and I am excited to start doing my part to help. I’m also really grateful to all of EPIC’s members who make our work possible and I look forward to meeting more of you over the coming months.
Thank you for your continued support,