January 31, 2017

Challenge to California’s gray wolf listing

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

This morning, we commenced our challenge to the California Fish and Game Commission’s listing of the gray wolf under the state’s Endangered Species Act. Brought on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, and their members, the lawsuit contends that the Commission’s listing is illegal for three reasons: (i) the listing is based on the presence of a member of a non-native subspecies wolf, contrary to the California Endangered Species Act’s limitation to native species and subspecies; (ii) the listing is based on a blinkered analysis of the wolf’s condition in California only, rather than on the species’ status throughout its natural range; and (iii) the listing is based on the intermittent presence within the state of a single wolf—OR-7—which since the Commission’s initial listing vote has settled down in Oregon.

Besides these legal infirmities, the Commission’s gray wolf listing represents terrible wildlife management policy. The listing upends a multi-year collaborative process among government, environmental, and ranching interests to balance wolf protection with livestock protection. Even without the wolf’s listing, the animal would be fully protected in the state; but the listing prevents the development of reasonable management options. For example, on account of the listing, a rancher cannot chase away a wolf that attacks cattle.

We hope that today’s lawsuit will bring a measure of balance and fairness back into the Commission’s administration of the California Endangered Species Act.

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California Cattlemen’s Association v. California Fish and Game Commission

Based on the sighting of a lone non-native gray wolf in California, the state Fish and Game Commission listed the gray wolf species under the California Endangered Species Act, effective January 1, 2017. On behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association, the California Farm Bureau Federation, and their members, PLF sued to invalidate this illegal listing, which protects a non-native species at the expense of native species, ignores the growing wolf populations outside California, and upends a multi-year collaborative process among government, environmental, and ranching interests to balance wolf protection with livestock protection. 

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