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The gray wolf once roamed across the entire North American continent, including the northeastern United States. Extirpation of the wolf in the late 1800s removed this top predator from an ecosystem that featured ample populations of moose and deer. Biologists believed that restoration of the wolf would help to control the populations of these large browsing animals and provide other ecological benefits as well. However, in 2003, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reclassified the gray wolf from endangered to threatened in the Northeast and eliminated the proposed Northeast Distinct Population Segment, virtually terminating any gray wolf recovery efforts in the region.
The National Wildlife Federation, the Vermont Natural Resources Council, the Maine Audubon Society, the Maine Wolf Coalition, and Environmental Advocates of New York alleged various violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, stemming from the federal government’s Final Rule to Reclassify the Gray Wolf. Working with co-counsel, the Clinic represented these organizations in a successful challenge to the reclassification rule.
On August 19, 2005, the United States District Court for the District of Vermont invalidated the rule and remanded it to the Fish and Wildlife Service for reconsideration.
National Wildlife Federation’s ground-breaking lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service challenged the attempt of the Bush Administration to walk away from a multi-year effort to restore the endangered gray wolf in the Northeast. It would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our partners at Vermont Law School’s Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. Peggy Struhsacker National Wolf Coordinator National Wildlife Federation