As the Biden administration on Wednesday insisted a final decision has not been made, conservation groups responded with alarm to a move that could lead to the U.S. government challenging a federal court ruling that restored protections for gray wolves in much of the United States.
"Despite President Biden's warnings about the looming threat of biodiversity loss, his administration is attempting to quash a significant ecological victory."
"The U.S. Department of Justice filed a protective notice regarding the recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on federal protections for gray wolves," the Interior Department told the Duluth News Tribune. "This action is a procedural step that will provide the federal government the time needed to assess its path forward and does not signal that the federal government has determined that an appeal will be pursued."
Jamie Rappaport Clark, CEO and president at Defenders of Wildlife, was among the conservationists who expressed concern about this week's filing, framing it as a potential betrayal by President Joe Biden after the Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves were stripped away under his predecessor.
"This announcement marks a stunning and supremely disappointing reversal by the administration," she said in a statement. "Despite President Biden's warnings about the looming threat of biodiversity loss, his administration is attempting to quash a significant ecological victory."
The February decision that restored protections—which Clark had called "a significant victory for gray wolves and for all those who value nature and the public's role in protecting these amazing creatures"—is already under attack from hunting and ranching groups.
Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity, vowed to the News Tribune that "no matter who appeals, we're prepared to defend the well-reasoned court order that returned lifesaving federal protections to wolves."
This content originally appeared on Common Dreams - Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community and was authored by Jessica Corbett.