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Working for Wild Lives

March 10, 2023

Western Watersheds Project is well known for our work protecting wildlife, from grizzlies and wolves to desert tortoise and greater sage grouse. We’re a leading voice championing policies and laws that conserve habitats and reduce the effects of anthropogenic impacts such as livestock grazing, mechanical and chemical vegetation treatments, and energy infrastructure.

Here are just three of our recent efforts to affect landscape-level change through species advocacy:

This past week, WWP submitted our second petition to list the pygmy rabbit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We first petitioned to protect this species in 2003, and, after years legal wrangling with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, received a “Not Warranted” finding in 2010. Since that time, we’ve watched innumerable projects ignore impacts to this pint-sized sagebrush-obligate, and we’ve hoped that some of the safeguards we’ve sought for the sage grouse would provide protection for the littlest lagomorph.

Unfortunately, the populations of and habitat availability for pygmy rabbits have been declining since the feds failed to give the species ESA protection, so we’ve resubmitted a petition with new data and analyses that shows the species is really in trouble. Hopefully, this time, the government will take act to stem the pygmy rabbits’ demise and provide broad-scale protections to ensure the species’ survival. Contact with any questions.

Secondly, we spearheaded a request to President Biden to issue an Executive Order protecting beaver on public lands. In February, a large coalition of scientists, nonprofits organizations, and advocates sent the White House a letter requesting that public lands be closed to beaver hunting and trapping as a climate change mitigation strategy.

The letter outlines the benefits of beavers, which include increased water storage and improved water quality, expanded wildlife and aquatic habitats, flood resistance and drought resilience, as well as providing natural fuels breaks in fire-prone landscapes. The letter asks the President to stop undermining the work of nature’s engineers, end beaver hunting and trapping on federal lands, and expand funding opportunities for beaver restoration.

The public is now being asked to sign a petition urging the White House to do the same thing. You can sign the petition here, and add your voice to the call for letting beavers help solve the climate and biodiversity crises. Contact for more information.

Finally, in Colorado, a statewide ballot initiative approved by the voters requires wolf reintroduction in 2023, and WWP has been working to get this done from the very outset. As the State of Colorado is draws up its wolf management plan, we have been pushing hard for scientifically valid wolf recovery by speaking for wolves at wildlife commission meetings, submitting scientific studies to state and federal agencies, and publishing perspectives columns to broadcast the truth about wolves and combat the flood of disinformation from wolf opponents like the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.

Science-based wolf management means no trophy hunting, no lethal control of wolves in retribution for livestock losses, and allowing wolf populations to expand well beyond minimum viable population levels and occupy their natural role in mountain ecosystems wherever there is available habitat for them. Soon the howl of the wolf will echo from peak to peak in the Colorado Rockies! Contact for more information.

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