Biden Administration Must Stand Up for Wildlife

Protections for Endangered Animals, Wild Horses and Burros, and Migratory Birds Should be Among Interior Department Priorities

If confirmed by the Senate, Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland, D-N.M., can restore much needed protections for wolves, bears, elephants, lions, and all manner of other wildlife who have been under the gun during the last four years — threatened by a phalanx of trophy hunters, energy developers, and ranchers. The Interior Department is one of the two most important federal agencies for animals (along with the Agriculture Department), overseeing 600 million acres of federal lands and playing a central role in implementing the Endangered Species Act and dozens of other statutes to protect wildlife. 

Acute threats to wildlife became evident in the first days of the Trump era after Alaska’s Congressional delegation made it a Republican priority to repeal two Obama-era rules to restrict shooting wolves and bears in their dens, land-and-shoot killing of the animals, and other ruthless and inhumane killing methods on nearly 100 million acres of national wildlife refuges and national preserves in The Last Frontier. One rule was undone by Congressional action and a presidential signature, and the second by a nullifying rulemaking action. The President’s term is ending with the Interior Department pleading with oil companies to buy leasing rights within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with the biggest energy companies taking a pass and recognizing they must make a commitment to sustainable forms of energy production in a society where citizens across the political spectrum are deeply concerned about climate change and preservation of our remaining wildernesses.

Here are the set of actions the Interior Department can take to undo the damage and fulfill its mission to protect wildlife, aligning its policies with the values of the majority of Americans.

Protect Wolves, Grizzly Bears, African Lions, and Other Endangered Species

  • Haaland can instruct her team to conduct a voluntary remand of the Trump Administration’s removal of wolves from the list of federally protected species and implement the process of reversing that decision. This is especially urgent with Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources already announcing a fall 2021 trapping and trophy hunting program for wolves. Wolves there and in a dozen other states are at extreme risk because of this unwarranted delisting.
  • Cease U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service efforts to remove federal protections for the Yellowstone Grizzly from the Endangered Species Act. Haaland was a cosponsor, in the 116th Congress, of Tribal Heritage and Grizzly Bear Protection Act.
  • Halt imports of sport-hunted trophies of threatened and endangered species from abroad. The Interior Department should be consistent in applying the Endangered Species Act’s prohibitions on the killing of U.S.-listed species to the foreign-listed species, such as African elephants, African lions, and leopards. Early in his term, President Trump rightly called the trophy hunting of elephants and other endangered animals a “horror show.” Haaland supported legislation in Congress to achieve these goals.

Restore Protections for Wolves, Bears, and Other Predators in Alaska 

  • Reverse National Park Service rules of May 2020 opening trophy hunting in Alaska’s national preserves, some 100 million acres of federal lands. The new rule undid a 2015 decision by the same agency restricting predator killing on natural preserves, eliminating hunting wolves and coyotes during denning season and bears by baiting.
  • Restrict predator killing on national wildlife refuges in Alaska to the greatest extent possible. President Trump signed a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify a rule forbidding inhumane and unsporting hunting methods on 76 million acres of refuges in Alaska. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should also abandon a proposed rulemaking to allow trophy hunting of brown bears with bait in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Protect Wild Horses and Burros

  • Impose a moratorium on non-emergency roundups of wild horses and burros and implement large-scale fertility control programs as the core population control strategy with new unrestricted monies allocated by the Congress. Cancel plans for experimental surgical spay procedures on wild mares. Reinstate meaningful opportunities for public observation in cases where wild horse and burro roundups are undertaken..

Stop Poisoning Our Wildlife

  • Reinstate the order from Obama Administration phasing out the use of lead ammunition in sport hunting/fishing tackle on national wildlife refuges. Adopt the same Director’s Order or rulemaking for units of the National Park Service, with an effective date no later than a year after the announcement. State wildlife agencies are already moving away from the use of lead and the dangerous metal should be not be dispersed on federal lands set aside for wildlife.
  • Bar the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services from using poisons — either sodium cyanide or sodium fluoroacetate — for predator control on any federal lands it manages. 

Restore Protections for Migratory Birds

  • Restore federal prohibitions to protect migratory birds from killing by oil and gas interests. In January 2020, a new proposal to weaken the Migratory Bird Act was proposed. In August 2020, U.S. District Judge struck down the proposal, but there remains confusion about how the Department will enforce the law.

Once the current administration took over, the Trump team did not waste any time rolling back wildlife protection. The Biden team must bring equal urgency to the task of restoring these protections and expanding upon them. Citizens should sign our petition imploring the Biden transition team to forge ahead with crucial protections for animal welfare and wildlife. 

8 thoughts on “Biden Administration Must Stand Up for Wildlife”

  1. At last we may see some relief in sight for the animals of the west, that Donald trump has decimated.
    The Horses and Burros have been rounded up with NO plan at all for there futures. The public outcries that were never addressed will finally be heard and I am-asking you to look
    deeply into The Bureau of Land Management Its a far cry from what it represents and like President Trump it has no foundation and its actions shout out in horror.
    BLM needs to be overhauled, All the people that work there care only about the $ they can get from surrendering these horse to slaughter.
    The horses are suffering dyeing and being rounded up by helicopters that run the fouls and bands to the ground many die from exhaustion and fear and being separated.Stallions trying to escape get severely wounded and many have died. Please contact Laura Leigh from wild horse education.

  2. There is always a solution to every problem, but it takes a village to find it, not just a few individuals. When it comes to a public lands, that is a generous part of America, by that i mean-acres and acres, we should all have a say in what happens there, how to manage it. If you ask someone for a opinion and they give it, you dont ignore it. BLM asked the public what they thought about the future of wild horses, we all had great ideas, of how to turn them into a gold mine. How to create an environment that-is good for the horses and Burros and the people that are interested in adopting them, to people that just want to come and see them. With the allotted amount of money they received from the government for a sterilization program they could have used that money to actually do something right for them. They live in a large areas with no grass or comforts that a horse should have, they separated the bands, just like trump did at the border. The parents there didn’t like it, well the horses dont like it either. You just cant treat people or animals this way. Compassion-and Empathy go a lot longer way. There is so much to address, Please address it!

  3. Dear President Joe Biden,

    Please act today to restore ESA Protections for Wolves…They are being torn apart by dRumpters…as they tried to tear down the National Capitol and Democracy. These wonderful native wild wolves need you and Deb Haaland to Stop All This Nonsense Once and For All. I Know You Joe…Let’s Do This For Our Wildlife! And Please Stop the Horse Roundups and sales, and slaughters, and shipping to Japan for sashimi! And, Please Stop the import of Wildlife from around the globe into the USA. There should be no part or parts of any wildlife brought into the USA…these animals need to be protected, every single one of them…let it start with us here in the USA! And btw, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US back up to the Paris Accord! Thank you Joe! I Do Know You!

  4. Restoring the wolf to the endangered species list is a win win for all wildlife. Removing them ushered in all types of brutal and draconian methods of killing animals. One of the worst being traps. Steel leg-hold traps capable of holding bears are spread all over the landscape catching and maiming or killing virtually every animal that inhabits these areas. If that isn’t bad enough add to the list neck snares. These nooses are so damaging and set in such numbers that many are forgotten and lay set till ultimently an animal sticks its neck into one and is strangled to death. For those of us that attempt to recreate on our public lands it has turned into a minefield of traps and snares. All common-sense is gone concerning trapping and the state game departments are all on board genuflecting to the hordes of trappers that have descended upon our public lands. Bounties up to a thousand dollars are paid for a wolf in Idaho. It is literally the nuts running the nuthouse here in Idaho. We implore Deb Haaland to as soon as she can legally do this, restore the wolf to the endangered species list A.S.A.P. I’m sure if she knew what I know and have seen what I have seen she would do flips putting the wolf back on the e.s.l

    Many things need fixing after the dumps bunch got the boot. We must not waste a minute repairing the damage done by the republicons. Thank You, Kevin

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