Lawyers return to the arena in big gray wolf case

By Michael Doyle | 04/18/2024 01:29 PM EDT

A federal appeals court this week lifted a stay that had kept the case frozen for more than a year.

A gray wolf looks at the camera

A gray wolf. Gary Kramer/Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

Active litigation has resumed in a key legal case concerning the future of federal protections for the gray wolf.

With the Fish and Wildlife Service still assessing whether the iconic animal continues to warrant listing as threatened or endangered, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted a stay that effectively kept the wolf litigation frozen in place for more than a year.

A brief court order issued Tuesday ended the gray wolf case’s involvement in the 9th Circuit’s mediation program and set a July 16 deadline for the initial appellate brief to be filed. This order issued by Circuit Mediator Robert Kaiser follows an April 11 court order that reopened the crowded batch of appeals to a trial judge’s ruling that restored the gray wolf’s ESA protections.


In November 2020, at the end of the Trump administration, FWS published a final rule delisting the gray wolf everywhere it was listed in the Lower 48 states. Environmentalists challenged the move, which a federal judge in Northern California vacated in a February 2022 ruling. The judge’s decision meant the gray wolves outside of the northern Rocky Mountains region once again were listed under the ESA.