After Promising Not To, Government Tries to Delist Wolves Again

At the end of May the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it was going to delay its plan to strip federal protection from nearly all gray wolves throughout the Lower 48 states indefinitely. But the agency announced on Friday that they’re just going to and try and delist them anyways.

The announcement has stirred strong opinions from both sides, while some still call wolf recovery a success story, others believe the move to delist them is premature and the decision is being driven more by politics than science.

While Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico and Arizona will be designated an endangered subspecies and get more protection under the proposal, management of gray wolves will be turned over to the states – which we’ve already seen result in the slaughter of hundreds of wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho after protections were lifted, including eight collared wolves from Yellowstone. Wisconsin and Minnesota both went over their kill quotas.

“This is like kicking a patient out of the hospital when they’re still attached to life support,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Wolves cling to a sliver of their historic habitat in the lower 48, and now the Obama administration wants to arbitrarily declare victory and move on. They need to finish the job that Americans expect, not walk away the first chance they get. This proposal is a national disgrace. Our wildlife deserve better.”

The FWS apparently considers the job finished. Director Dan Ashe said in a statement that their goal was to address threats species face and ensure their recovery, and that in the case of gray wolves the latest information shows they have “accomplished that goal” and they can now move on to focus recovery efforts on Mexican gray wolves.

There are now an estimated 6,100 wolves primarily in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes regions, with a few packs forming in the Northwest and additional sightings reported in other states. However, conservationists and scientists believe there is still a lot of space in their former range for wolves to expand to in the Pacific Northwest, California, the southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast and that they’re are only just beginning to disperse.

They also believe that taking away their protection now will mean wolves may never be able to establish themselves in these areas.

“Science is an important part of this decision, but really the key is the policy question of when is a species recovered,” Ashe told the AP. “Does the wolf have to occupy all the habitat that is available to it in order for it to be recovered? Our answer to that question is no.”

However, organizations including Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, the Endangered Species Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the American Society of Mammologists, along with biologists and members of Congress, disagree with the so-called science behind the proposal and have all voiced their concerns.

The Center for Biological Diversity has vowed to challenge the decision in court if wolves lose protection.

The proposal will be followed by a 90-day public comment period once its published in the Federal Register, which should happen this week, and a final decision will be made within a year. You can check here for instructions on how to comment once it’s published.


Photo credit: Thinkstock


Dolores H.
Sharon Talbot4 years ago

There is a simple reason why the government keeps backing ranchers and hunters: LOBBYISTS! They have the money and the legislators are greedy. They don't give a damn about one of the most beautiful and key predators in the world! They're probably just pissed that there aren't more of them to shoot! They are are like a deranged kid gone nuts with a video game.

Props to June J., who said that the pro-wolf lobby needs to be far more vocal! For some gruesome facts surrounding this man-made controversy, as well as proven solutions, EVEN by ranchers (!), watch/read this excellent documentary: "Shades of Gray - Living With Wolves":

It is also available on YouTube. Warning: it depicts truly disturbing scenes of wolves being choked to death, shot and even tortured while a fat, smiling "Human" stands by laughing! Maybe more videos like this on prime time will get people off their smug a**es to help wolves!

David V.
David V4 years ago

The governmant is good for nothing especially with Obama at the helm. The government never keeps its word....

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Mark D.
Mark D.4 years ago

Fish and Wildife Services should be called Wildlife destroyers. They have proven that by their support of greedy ranchers and agribusiness and their massive poisoning and murder of our wildlife. Anyone working in that sordid agency deserves to be behind bars for life.

Ernie Miller
william Miller4 years ago

I have been helping in this fight for years and just don't understand why any one would want to kill off an entire spices?

Waheeda S.
Waheeda E4 years ago

Have there been any lobby groups who lobby for compassion and good?

This is shameful.

June J.
June J4 years ago

The federal government has fallen victim to the intense lobbying of ranchers. This is why they reversed their position on wolf protection. Intense lobbying by the pro-wolf camp needs to occur, garnering support form celebrities to help the cause. I'm personally in favour of keeping the wolves as they are an essential and natural part of the ecosystem. How will younger generations learn about caring for sentient beings (wolves are actually afraid of people so there's no harm to human beings) if there are none available for them to view in their natural habitats? Ranchers and grazinbg land for stock is your answer. Human greed and selfishness all over again.

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

WOW.....our government lied to us? Now there's a real shocker. They don't give a $h!t about humans so they are going to care even less about animals, if that's even possible.

Mónika M.
Monika M4 years ago

Shame on them! Governments all over the world are liars and interest-driven.

Manuela C.
Manuela C4 years ago

Shame, shame, shame!