The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is moving forward with its proposal to remove all Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves throughout the U.S. with the exception of Mexican gray wolves living in New Mexico and Arizona.
Some call the recovery of gray wolves in the U.S. a success story, but there are still few wolves in the majority of their historic range.
Mike Jimenez, who manages wolves in the northern Rockies for the Fish and Wildlife Service told the LA Times that delisting marked a “huge success story” and that if populations reach levels that biologists consider to be dangerously low they can reinstate protections.
Apparently exterminating wolves and bringing them back only to hunt them again to the point where we need to protect them again makes sense to our government. According to the Washington Post between 1991 and 2011, the federal government spent $102 million on gray wolf recovery programs and state agencies contributed $15.6 million.
While ranchers and hunters are thrilled with the proposed plan, wolf advocates and scientists don’t believe they should be delisted and disagree with the premise that wolves are not in danger of extinction because they’re doing well in a few areas. Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife told the LA Times the decision “reeks of politics” and vowed that it will face multiple legal challenges.
“This is politics versus professional wildlife management,” said Clark. “The service is saying, ‘We’re done. Game over. Whatever happens to wolves in the U.S. is a state thing.’ They are declaring victory long before science would tell them to do so.”
We already saw how well it went when they lost protection in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes region and management authority was turned over to the states. Hundreds of wolves were brutally slaughtered by hunters and trappers in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, including eight collared wolves from Yellowstone. Wisconsin and Minnesota both went over their kill quotas.
If wolves are delisted in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast they will be left facing even worse odds than they already are and may never establish new territories.
The California Fish and Game Commission is considering making the gray wolf a candidate for the California Endangered Species Act, a a decision that will provide immediate protection to the state’s lone wolf OR-7, but the state still has no recovery plan in place. In Oregon and Washington wolves are only starting to recover and are protected under state laws, but can still be killed if they’re caught attacking livestock. Last year Washington killed an entire pack of wolves over the predation of a few cows. Utah’s already trying to kill wolves it doesn’t even have yet.
The plan is expected to be released at some point over the next few weeks, but is only a draft until it’s entered into the Federal Register.
Please sign and share the petition opposing plans to remove federal protection from wolves.
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