In May 2011, the same month Echo was born, Congress ended a budget standoff by approving must-pass legislation that included a rider removing Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho, along with those in portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Removal of federal protections has thus far cost thousands of wolves their lives through state-authorized hunting, trapping and strangulation-snaring by members of the public, and through federal trapping, strangulation and aerial gunning.“Echo’s killing illustrates the perils that wolves face and the imperative to maintain federal protections as called for under the science-based standards of the Endangered Species Act,” Robinson said in his statement. “Keeping wolves on the endangered list is the basis for the public education we need, to enable more wolves to live and thrive and minimize conflict.”
The 2011 budget act forbade judicial review of the decision to remove protections. In contrast, federal courts have reversed as unlawful administrative delisting decisions extending to wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states. Consequently wolves remain on the endangered species list everywhere in the contiguous 48 states except Montana and Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon, and northeastern Utah. However, prosecutions of people who kill wolves are exceedingly rare.
Congress now threatens to extend the precedent of the 2011 delisting through another rider that would preclude protection of wandering wolves such as Echo, and prevent the recovery of wolves to suitable habitats where they could benefit the ecosystems.