The first hunting season of Northern Rocky wolves will end on March 31. The wolves became fair game in Idaho, Montana and Utah after the Obama administration removed them from the Endangered Species Act in 2009. These states are now looking at ways to further reduce wolf packs and extend the hunting period into mating season, which would threaten the lives of pregnant wolves.
Northern Rocky wolves (gray wolves) came off the Endangered Species List last spring and have been under attack ever since. The federal government decided the wolves, which have a population of about 1,650, were a recovered species and lifted their protection.
Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife said in an interview with the L.A. Times last September, “We had expected at this point to be celebrating the recovery of the gray wolf in the northern Rockies. Instead, after decades of recovery efforts, tremendous support and investment from the American public…and one of the most successful wildlife restorations in history, the future of the gray wolf in the Rocky Mountains is once again in jeopardy.”
The first-ever public wolf hunt began on September 1, 2009. Now Idaho, Montana and Utah want more.
Idaho was given the approval to hunt up to 220 wolves. They have killed 184. In an attempt to complete their quota, the state extended the season. Defenders of Wildlife said this is “putting more wolf families in the crosshairs – including pregnant wolf mothers due to give birth this spring.”
Idaho has also introduced legislation declaring a “state of emergency” in regard to the wolves – who they claim are putting herds of Elk at risk. They want to “increase harvest limits, issue multiple tags and allow trapping of wolves.”
Montana was given a quota of killing 75 wolves. They are looking at ways to further decrease the wolves in their state, too. Lawmakers are recruiting help from Wildlife Services which is a federal agency with authority to kill predatory animals that threaten livestock. This would allow them to sidestep permission to hunt wolves from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks division.
And Utah has turned up the heat on wolves in their state. Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, told KSL.com, wolves are putting wildlife and people at risk. “Wolves will destroy their food supply, and they’ll kill people. That’s why our pioneers got rid of wolves in the first place. Wolves are way out of control in the west, and it’s time for Congress to step in and reduce wolf populations before they kill people,” he says.
And hunters in Wyoming held a rally last week protesting their inability to kill Northern Rocky Wolves. They will probably get approval to hunt the animals during the next season.
The gray wolf became nearly extinct in the Western part of the country in the early 20th century. They gained protection from the Endangered Species Act in 1973. In the 1990′s the wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and parts of Idaho where they made a successful comeback.
Defenders of Wildlife and local animal welfare organizations in each state have been fighting for the wolves since they were de-listed. They want the gray wolves reinstated. “Re-listing wolves not only protects this fragile and important population, but the integrity of the Endangered Species Act.” It will also restore balance to the ecosystem that animal welfare groups worked hard to achieve.
Please join in protecting Northern Rocky wolves by signing the petition that urges President Obama to add the wolves back to the Endangered Species List. Encourage people you know to help, as well.
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