The Rocky Mountain gray wolf is no longer protected under the endangered species act. The 1,300 gray wolves in the region will now be under state management, and hunting will resume in Montana, Idaho, parts of Utah, Washington and Oregon.
Wolves in Wyoming will still be covered by federal management, but only until the state comes up with a management plan. Wolves in other areas, such as the Great Lakes region, are also likely to be removed from the list.
“The recovery of gray wolves in the United States is a tremendous success story of the Endangered Species Act,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
“From a biological perspective, gray wolves have recovered. It is now time to return their management to states that are prepared to ensure the long-term health of the species.”
This is the first time Congress has ever removed an animal from the endangered species list. Once again there is a debate over wolves and ranchers which has been ongoing. Ranchers say that wolves are a threat to their livestock, and could even become a threat to humans if the wolf population grows too large. Environmentalists see wolves as an important part of the natural balance.
“To be sure, not everyone will be satisfied with today’s announcement,” Salazar said.
“Wolves have long been a highly charged issue but let us not lose sight of the fact that these delistings are possible because the species has recovered in these areas.”
While it is wonderful news that wolf populations have returned, it is certainly not the end of the story.
Photo by Asia Jones.