Ever since Congress stripped Endangered Species Act protections from our nation’s gray wolves, the Montana state government is encouraging people to kill them. People can kill up to 220 wolves in-state during hunting season. Already 100 wolves have been killed this season, but since that’s shy of the total allowed, Montana actually extended the hunting season to make sure that they fill the “quota” — which amounts to offing 40 percent of Montana’s entire wolf population.
Their justification for advocating for the large-scale killing of wolves is that the wolf population is at a “healthy” number. Apparently to some, driving the barely-recovered gray wolves back towards the brink of extinction is acceptable policy once again.
By the 1960s, gray wolves had been hunted for sport to near extinction in the United States. The Endangered Species Act was their saving grace, providing them with protection from hunters under the law. But today, our government doesn’t consider wolves an endangered species — it considers them vermin.
Last April, Congress stripped gray wolves of their protection under the Endangered Species Act, the law which had saved them. This was the first time Congress mandated that a species’ protection be taken away and sets a dangerous precedent.
Under normal circumstances, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the judiciary designate which species are “endangered.” However, Congress overrode scientists’ and the courts’ decision to protect gray wolves, caving to lobbies by people who profit from hunting or farming livestock.
Gray wolves balance the ecosystem by naturally controlling the population of animals that consume vegetation. Wolves also facilitate evolution in other species. These creatures are needed by the natural community to maintain the delicate balance of life. Without them, caribou, deer, bison and rabbits would clear the land of flora, and the ecosystem would be unable to maintain itself.
Who are we to decide exactly how many wolves should be able to live? The gray wolf population isn’t even a fraction of its historic size back when they inhabited most regions of United States. State governments needs to let go of this unnecessary and merciless desire to control the population of animals who are just trying to simply survive.
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