by Alison Dorf
The Obama Administration has recently announced a proposal to lift most federal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states.
An article from ABC by the Associated Press reads:
"State and federal agencies have spent more than $117 million restoring the predators since they were added to the endangered species list in 1974. Today more than 6,100 wolves roam portions of the Northern Rockies and western Great Lakes.
With Friday's announcement, the administration signaled it's ready to move on: The wolf has rebounded from near-extermination, balance has been restored to parts of the ecosystem, and hunters in some states already are free to shoot the animals under state oversight."
Hold on - what?
Because wolves are no longer "near-extermination," hunters are allowed to shoot the animals again?
I understand that we can't let a wolf population grow so large that it becomes impossible to contain, but I do feel that this decision was made a little carelessly.
The article goes on to explain that hundreds of wolves have been killed in recent years by "government wildlife agents responding to livestock attacks."
By lifting wolf protections, ranchers will no longer have to suffer from their livestock being killed by wolves, apparently.
But what about areas that still have space for wolves? Areas that do not include farmland, that would ecologically benefit from having a wolf population?
If hunters are allowed to shoot them again, how will they possibly continue to grow? And if hunted, won't they start migrating into other territory, where they might not be wanted or needed? I may not be a wolf expert, but this decision seems a little counterproductive.
According to Defenders of Wildlife-
"Wolves keep large herd animals in check, which can benefit numerous other plant and animal species. The carcasses of their prey also help to redistribute nutrients and provide food for other wildlife species, most notably other scavengers."
Just like any animal, wolves play a huge role in the ecosystem. Taking away federal protection not only endangers the wolves themselves, it endangers the environment.
Luckily, the proposal has not been without a fight.
According to the same article from ABC, The Center for Biological Diversity has vowed to take court action against the government if the animals are removed from the endangered species list as planned.
The Center for Biological Diversity released a press release on Friday, including a letter to Washington, D.C. from some of the "world's leading wolf researchers," and a quote from Noah Greenwald, endangered species director, who stated, "This proposal is a national disgrace. Our wildlife deserve better.”
The letter begins:
As scientists with expertise in carnivore taxonomy and conservation biology, we are writing to express serious concerns with a recent draft rule leaked to the press that proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 States, excluding the range of the Mexican gray wolf. Collectively, we represent many of the scientists responsible for the research referenced in the draft rule.
Based on a careful review of the rule, we do not believe that the rule reflects the conclusions of our work or the best available science concerning the recovery of wolves, or is in accordance with the fundamental purpose of the Endangered Species Act to conserve endangered species and the ecosystems upon which they depend.
The full letter can be found here.
It is truly heartbreaking to see such blatant disregard of our wildlife, especially against the word of reputable scientists around the country. I have to agree with Noah Greenwald on this one - The proposal is a national disgrace.
Shame on you, Obama Administration.