“State Court Litigation Saved Wisconsin Wolves”
In February 2021, a Wisconsin state court judge forced the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to hold a public hunt of gray wolves after the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service removed the wolf from the federal endangered species list. Hunters eliminated 20% of the wolf population in Wisconsin, by some estimates, in just three days, in violation of indigenous treaty rights.
This panel features the lead attorneys and plaintiff organization who stopped the state from holding a second wolf hunt in November 2021. They will talk about the different litigation strategies used in Wisconsin and the pitfalls and successes of each.
Jessica Blome is a partner with the public interest environmental law firm Greenfire Law, PC. Jessica practices in the areas of animal, environmental, open government, and land use law. She represents citizen groups and individual plaintiffs in local, state, and federal tribunals in California and across the country.
Claire Loebs Davis is the founder and managing partner of Animal & Earth Advocates, a Seattle-area law firm that works on behalf of animals, wildlife, and the environment. Claire has brought several lawsuits challenging state wolf management in Washington, and was part of the legal team that successfully sued to stop the 2021 Wisconsin wolf hunt. In addition, Claire has brought a wide variety of other litigation to protect the environment, wild fish, and terrestrial wildlife, including suits to stop the logging of old growth forests, curb grazing on public lands, stop hound hunting, challenge carnivore hunting rules, and protect wild fish from the dangers posed by aquaculture and hatcheries.
Claire is also the board president for Washington Wildlife First, a nonprofit dedicated to reforming Washington’s management of its fish and wildlife, to prioritize science over special interests and conservation over consumption. In this role, Claire has actively worked to reform Washington’s wolf management policies, including advocating for a rule that would limit the state’s ability to use taxpayer funds to kill wolves as a result of livestock predations.
Melissa Smith founded Friends of the Wisconsin Wolf in 2011 shortly after wolves were delisted from the Endangered Species Act for the first time in Wisconsin. She learned more about the processes for wildlife decisions, environmental sociology and ecology of Wisconsin. She vowed to make it both her professional and personal mission to have a wildlife governance that considered all members of the public. She founded Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance in 2015.
Melissa served as an elected delegate to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress for 8 years where she found many friends who also felt similar. Melissa has been building bridges between both communities and has found we have more in common, by charming people, standing on equal ground and making people laugh, no matter what side of an issue a person was on. We value her for this unique leadership ability. We could use a little less of the charming “language” at times though. 🙂
Melissa is a sociologist and has worked for as an organizer and lobbyist for other national NGOs such as Endangered Species Coalition, but always felt that the Great Lakes region was treated as a fly over zone (and we literally are by several endangered birds, insects and bats) that needed special attention, a rebirth in preservation of wildlife and wildlands. She formed the Great Lakes Wildlife Alliance just for that purpose of fighting for and making the Western Great Lake states leaders in wildlife ethics. Her ability to laugh and have empathy and make others feel the same, is missed skill in the environmental movement! Her resilience and work ethic is unmatched.
Melissa is most inspired by everyday people such as yourselves for doing what is right when it seems impossible and giving the voiceless a fighting chance. Melissa loves hiking, canoeing, wildlife watching, travel, swearing and doing stand up comedy in her spare time. Her favorite animal is the raccoon and she is quick to remind you that it’s your favorite too.