The Fate of the Gray Wolf

Feb 21, 2008 2:04pm

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that the gray wolf in the northern Rockies "is thriving and no longer requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act."  The Interior Department says there are now 1,500 wolves roaming free in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming.  The wolves, which once ranged from Mexico to the Arctic, all but disappeared by the 1930s.  They were listed as an endangered species in 1973.  In 1995, amid great controversy, wolves from Canada were released in the region, and now, says the government, there are at least 100 breeding pairs in the area. A quote from Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Secretary of the Interior: "The wolf population in the Northern Rockies has far exceeded its recovery goal and continues to expand its size and range. States, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions can be proud of their roles in this remarkable conservation success story."  Find more HERE, and the actual rule, proposing that state governments take over, HERE. Local people, especially ranchers, have been pushing for the government to do what it did today.  They complain about wolves threatening their livestock; now, if the decision stands, they’ll be allowed to hunt them. But not so fast, say environmental groups.  “The decision to remove protections for wolves is premature. We still have a long way to go before wolf populations are sustainable over the long term. This is like declaring victory at mile eighteen in a marathon,” says Melanie Stein of the Sierra Club.  They had been expecting today’s decision, and had their responses — as well as legal petitions — at the ready.
Take a look as well at what’s been posted by the National Wildlife Federation. And contrast it with an editorial last month in the Idaho Statesman: "As the wolf population continues to increase — actually explode — so do concerns about conflicts." The paper, like many of its readers, expresses distrust of Washington bureaucrats making decisions from afar. The issue is really more nuanced than left-vs.-right.  But how you feel about the gray wolf, it’s been suggested, can depend on where you live, how you vote, how you interpret Genesis.  Are you a rancher or a city-dweller?  Do you think of humans mostly as having domain over the earth, or having an obligation to be stewards of it? 

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