January 15, 2009

Advocates to sue over gray wolf de-listing

U.S. Endangered Species Act advocates say they will sue the Interior Department to stop its plan to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

The department said that starting March 1 it would lift Endangered Species Act protection for the wolf, also known as the timber wolf, in Montana and Idaho, parts of Oregon, Utah and Washington, and in the western Great Lakes.

It did not include Wyoming because the state has not done enough to assure the animal's survival, the department said.

Defenders of Wildlife, which lobbies and uses the legal system in the hope of protecting endangered and threatened species, said it would sue the department.

Its president, Rodger Schlickeisen, called the department's decision a blatantly political maneuver.

States have plans to kill hundreds of wolves as soon as they're de-listed, he said.

The Center for Biological Diversity, which also advocates for endangered species, said it may also take the matter to court, online newspaper eFluxMedia reported.

The Bush administration has tried to de-list the wolf three times. But judges have reversed those decisions in response to lawsuits brought by environmentalists, who argued wolf populations were not fully recovered.

The rule is scheduled to be published Jan. 27 and to take effect 30 days later.