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Fordham Envtl. L. Rev.


This article uses the fundamentals of the ESA to remind us why Congress passed the ESA. It applies those fundamentals and their focus on recovery of species in peril, to the wolf wars, the decades long legal battles over the reintroduction, recovery, and delisting of wolves culminating in two cases, Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell (Wyoming case) and Humane Society of the U.S. v. Jewell (Western Great Lakes case). Applying the ESA’s focus on species recovery to the wolf wars demonstrates where the disconnect between recovery and delisting occurs.

Part 1 of this article sets out the fundamentals of the ESA, paying particular attention to Section 4, the actions of listing and delisting, and the process of recovery.

In Part 2, this article uses the Wyoming and Western Great Lakes cases to demonstrate how the difficulty of delisting a species can mask the success of the ESA in facilitating a species’ recovery.

Part 3 of this article poses lessons learned from the wolf wars. The cases demonstrate that the dialogue around delisting detracted from the actual recovery of the species and what’s required for continued recovery of the species over time.