BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An environmental group filed notice Tuesday that it intends to sue the federal government to force adoption of a plan to recover gray wolves across the lower 48 states.

The predators were poisoned and trapped to near-extermination in the United States in the last century. But they have bounced back in some wilderness areas over the last few decades.

Biologists with the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity said Tuesday they want to expand that recovery nationwide.

In the notice filed with the Interior Department, the group said it will sue within 60 days if the agency doesn’t start crafting a plan to expand wolf ranges. The Endangered Species Act requires the agency to be notified two months before a lawsuit is filed.

Despite making gains in some areas since the species was first listed as endangered in 1974, the gray wolf remains limited to about 5 percent of its historical range. About 6,000 wolves live in the lower 48 states. They are protected from hunting except in Alaska.

“Wolves once roamed nearly the whole country and down into Mexico,” said Noah Greenwald with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“We’ve learned from where wolves have been reintroduced that they have a tremendous benefit,” he said. “They force elk to move around more, which allows riparian vegetation to come back and increases songbirds, and they control coyote populations.”

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration has pushed to end federal protections for wolves and turn control over the animals over to the states.

Public hunts for wolves have been allowed briefly in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, but were halted after the federal government was rebuffed by the courts in several attempts to take the animal off the endangered list.

Judges have ruled that the government has not proved existing wolf numbers would ensure the population’s long-term survival.

Wolves are notorious predators with a hunger for livestock, and experts say they could survive in most of the country if they were allowed.

Young adult wolves sometimes travel hundreds of miles when looking to establish a new territory. In the last several years, packs have gained a toehold in parts of Oregon and Washington. Others have been spotted in Colorado, Utah and northern New England.

But as packs continue to multiply their taste for livestock and big game herds coveted by hunters has stoked a rising backlash.

Several bills are pending in Congress to strip the predators of their federal protections, including in areas of the desert Southwest where a restoration efforts have struggled to take hold.

Those bills could die at the end of the year when the current session ends. Lawmakers have pledged to reintroduce the measures.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (20)
  1. Dan says:

    Environmental groups are going to stimulate support for the opposite of what they propose by making outrageous demands like this.

  2. TW says:

    Why don’t they just come out and say that the real problem is that people live in the environment that belongs to ‘nature’. You have to realize that some enviro-nuttsies are looking forward to a depopulating event to happen to humans. Meteor, plague, climate change with flooding…I don’t think they mind any of these scenarios.

  3. John says:

    Shoot, Shovel, Shut Up

  4. Lynn says:

    The gray wolf can’t be that bad? Woffy is a distant relative to man’s best friend, the family pet!

    1. Shawn says:

      Talk to me when you have one roaming through your yard at night when you have woofy out on his chain…..I have been hunting all my life….black bears don’t make be pucker like seeing wolf tracks in an area that I am hunting. Black bears will avoid you….wolves will follow and hunt you…

  5. pete123 says:

    Just like John said: Shoot, shovel….SHUT UP!

  6. Ignorance must be bliss says:

    WOW, must be a lot of educated people talking about something that they have had a lot of time to investigate here. I would like to start by just asking Shawn to site 1 source that he can think of that a wolf has hunted and killed a human in the last 100 years, then look at the # of wolves that have been hunted and killed in the same time frame. If you can find 1 that a wolf has hunted and killed a human I would be surprised. To the rest of you gun toting red-necks I would ask that you please just make yourselves know so that people of intellect can avoid you. I know why don’t you all wear a “Git er done” shirt, that will work. I am not a tree hugger but I would gladly join them if this is the only other side.

    1. chad says:

      its happened 2x in Ak this year. and seveal close calls..

  7. CG BOWEN says:

    I am one of those gun toating Red necks I am from west virginia they may not have been ne reports in the last 100 years but they are capable of doing it espcialy to a lone man in the woods at night. i have two small boys and hunting dogs that i charish if they bring em back to west virginia they wont make it long i know too many people that feel the same way about them I know in canada a few years ago two coyotes stocked and killed a young lady if a coyote can i know a wolf can

  8. Bob says:

    Oh ya you guys are nothin but a bunch of dog killing snipers. Leave them alone you GD cave apes.

  9. TW says:

    My question to a poster above is why do ‘intellectuals’ need to avoid rednecks. Is it possible that the logic of everyday people just makes theories and educated elitists look flimsy in the face of reality. Did any of the folks who want to see wolves planted in every state ever look at what a wolf does when it satisfies the need to hunt and eat? Would they want to put on snow shoes and take a long hike through wolf country in mid-winter? And do so on their own without any way to counter an attack? That is probably why you hear so little to nothing about humans being attacked, we tend to stay out of harms way knowing that we are made of meat just like deer are. We also have the advantage of firepower if we need to use it. So keep up the ‘cave apes’ and ‘redneck’ comments if you feel better. Just would you please wear a shirt that states “Smug elitist, don’t make me deal with reality, I know more than you do because I watch Animal Planet”.

    1. TJ says:

      You got my vote. The most honest, down to earth, hard working people I know are what this moron like to call “rednecks”. They also have the most common sense, something the elitists are seriously lacking.

  10. albert vaughn says:

    Shoot them all!! Bury them all!! And talk amongst ourselves!

  11. who cares says:

    I think they are going to do what they want. So there is nothing any one can do about. If they want to bring back the population of the grey wolf by george they are going to. Like I said there is nothing you can do about, so shut up about. You dumbass people say of shot em and bury em. But little do you know if you get caught killing one or buring one your going to get in trouble. So shut up about it and leave it alone.

    1. TW says:

      Sheeple, baa baa baa. At what point do some of you folks say NO!! ?

  12. Mothernature says:

    Who is the real dangerous animal here? I think before we give a hunter a gun and license from now on, we need to put them through educational classes. Using a gun is a privilege earned. Test to see which are respectful and understand the importance of all living and the balance of nature. It is creepy that we have these people wondering around in our forest with guns. I feel a lot safer with wildlife! No wonder we have so little :- ( left
    Tame them, Test them, track them

  13. Mothernature says:

    I think before we give a hunter a gun and license from now on, we need to put them through educational classes. Test to see which ones are respectful and understand the importance of all living and the balance of nature. No wonder we have so little wildlife left!

    1. TJ says:

      so little wildlife? fact is we have more wildlife than ever before because of regulated hunting. You should educate yourself.

  14. CHARLES PULLEN says:

    This would be a very bad thing to pass. I couldn,t leave my kids alone outside mo more. The wolf is a very mean animal and it will attack the weak ,whatever that might be. Someting beatuiful is NOT ALWAYS FRIENDLY. This will be a BIG MISTAKE.

  15. Hunter1986 says:

    Kill em all they are worthless creature that god obviousaly wants extinct cause no one likes them.

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