Ranchers in five Western states are very happy with the government’s decision to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list because it will make it easier for them to hunt the animals, which they claim kill their livestock.
According to the Associated Press, earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted federal protection for more than 1,300 wolves in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah.
The animals had been protected by the Endangered Species Act, but when a federal budget bill was introduced in Congress, senators from Montana ran a sneaky maneuver and added language to the bill to “delist” the wolves in the five states.
The legislation passed and transferred responsibility of the wolves to the Fish and Wildlife Service which sits on the side of the ranchers.
The ranchers claim the gray wolves take a “steady toll” on their cattle and sheep. Tex Marchessault, a cattle rancher near Dillon Montana told AP, “Let the public know what kind of killers we’re faced with. They’re killers and that’s the way it is.”
The ranchers are upset with the government for reintroducing the wolves to their grazing land after they had been gone for 25 to 30 years. The wolves were hunted to near extinction and then built-up to sustainable levels by the government who then released them back to their native homeland.
The problem is that while the wolves were away, ranchers expanded their use of the land and left little room for the animals to roam and hunt when they returned. When the wolves saw the cattle and sheep roaming in the area, they acted in a natural manner and became predators of the livestock.
While the ranchers in the Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Utah complain about the large wolf dilemma, there are actually more wolves in other parts of the country like Minnesota. The cattlemen in this region appear to have less interaction with the wolves because their livestock are fenced.
The government showed the ranchers in the five Western states statistics of how guard animals and fencing could protect their livestock, but they continue to allow their animals to graze freely; putting their cattle and sheep in danger.
Collette Adkins Giese attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said that wolves kill a relatively small number of livestock and that most deaths are caused by illness or weather conditions. But ranchers in the Western states are not convinced and use anecdotal stories to show the predatory nature of the wolves.
To make matters worse, the Fish and Wildlife Service plans to take the gray wolves off the endangered list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. There are an estimated 4,200 wolves in these three states.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn said, “It’s time to get them off the list. That’s how the Endangered Species Act was set up.”
Photo from Creative Commons - Todd Ryburn