Last chance for wolf protection—The federal government is planning to remove Endangered Species Protection for nearly all grey wolves in the lower 48 states. This extreme action would leave wolf management in the hands of openly anti-wolf states such as Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. A public comment period ending October 28 is the final opportunity to speak out for these iconic creatures that in many ways define our nation’s wildlife values.
The story of wolves in America is one of tragedy and success. Until the 1880s there were hundreds of thousands of grey wolves in the United States, from all the states west of the Mississippi across the northern tier of states to Maine, including New York. By 1930, they were nearly all gone. Persecuted by ranchers, hunters, and even governments, wolves were on the brink of disappearing from the US. Wolves received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. After a long, hard-fought battle, wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995. As wolf populations recovered, scientists witnessed a corresponding recovery of healthy ecosystems where this top predator had been missing for so long. It seemed that wolves were headed to reclaiming their place at least in America’s west.
However, in an unprecedented act, Congress in 2011 removed grey wolves from ESA protection in the northern Rockies and turned control over to the states. These states are killing large numbers of wolves through aggressive lethal control and reckless, unsustainable hunting. And now, the Obama administration intends to drop all ESA protection for grey wolves. This species’ recovery is far from complete, nor is the species
beyond danger of extinction. Wolves occupy only 8.4% of their original habitat, and 36% of the habitat judged suitable for them. Without protection, it is highly doubtful they will ever exist beyond these limited areas.
What you can do—Unless conservationists speak out now, the hard-won gains in protecting grey wolves could be lost. Contact the US Fish & Wildlife Service and let them know the job of recovering wolves from endangered species status is far from done.
Some points to make:
- Wolves are not recovered in key parts of their range. Delisting could prevent the return of wolves to California, Colorado and Utah, where there is excellent habitat, and short-circuit recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Colorado, for example, does not have a confirmed wolf presence yet, but possesses great wolf habitat. The federal government manages about 55% of the land in the state, including 9.5 million acres of roadless areas, and the state hosts an estimated 300,000 elk, or 30% of the nation’s total elk population.
- If we had previously put in place the policies that USFWS is now using to delist the wolf, not only would we have not protected bald eagles or grizzly bears, but we would not have achieved these and other success stories such alligators and peregrine falcons.
- By lowering the bar for endangered species recovery, the federal government is setting a dangerous precedent that could impact conservation and recovery efforts across the country for other imperiled species.
- States where wolves have already been delisted are not managing their wolves like other wildlife – instead their goal is to aggressively drive wolf population numbers down to the bare minimum required by law.
Comments on the wolf proposal can be submitted online at http://www.regulations. gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-ES-2013-0073-19350
or by mail to:
Public Comments Processing
Division of Policy and Directives Management
US Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203
In addition, Defenders of Wildlife has excellent background information and an easy prepared online submission at http://www.defenders.org.
Please take action to save the wolf!