The tragic delisting of Wyoming’s gray wolves from the Endangered Species List has many wildlife defenders up in arms, and with sound reason: the removal of protections for the wolves marks an end to many years of successful recovery efforts of a species that was once on the verge of extinction.
To hand over the “wolf management plan” to a state that intends to eradicate wolves from most of its territory seems at odds with the idea of protecting and recovering an endangered species, yet that is exactly what Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has done.
The loss of federal protection for the wolves is a death sentence for at least 56 wolves now occupying areas of Wyoming that were converted into a shoot-on-sight zone by the federal delisting decision. Wyoming now surpasses Montana and Idaho in implementing anti-wolf policies, even though both Montana and Idaho significantly expanded their wolf hunting quotas and hunting seasons in the last year. This “race to the bottom” approach to wolf management is no way to manage a species that only recently was placed on the road to recovery from last century’s exterminations.
As long as Wyoming’s extreme management plan exists, Earthjustice will fight to reinstate the wolves as an endangered species, vowed Earthjustice Managing Attorney Tim Preso, who filed the challenge on behalf of other conservation groups. He explained:
The howl of the wolf defines the Northern Rockies as a truly wild place. The wolf is a living symbol of wildness and wilderness. It is also an apex predator that plays a critical role in the ecological system of this region. I wouldn’t want to live in a world that isn’t wild enough to sustain wolves, and I suspect a lot of people feel the same way.