Here we go!!! United States Fish and Wildlife officials are proposing to lift the protections on gray wolves in the lower 48! Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is expected to announce the plan at the wildlife conference in Denver. The move will most likely be tied up in legal battles but it is encouraging to say the least. Wolves are a polarizing animal, loved by some hated by others.
In 1975 the wolves gained endangered species status with less than 1,000 animals. Those dogs lived in northern Minnesota. The populations were decimated by hunting and flat out extirpation attempts. Today more than 5,000 canines roam the contiguous US from the Rockies in the west to parts of Maine in the east. Wolves have thrived and have exceeded populations goals according to USFWS officials. Even though some areas may not have an abundance of wolves, the species as a whole does not need to be listed due to overpopulation in other areas. In 2011 the wolves lost protection in the northern Rockies and even under hunting pressure are still considered recovered.
In the past animal rights groups have argued to keep protections for the wolves in the past. The groups wanted to see the wolves inhabit more of their historic ranges before protection was lifted. In 2013, after a crushing blow to delist the wolves in the western Great Lakes Region was shot down, delisting attempts subsided.
Jamie Clark, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service now with the Defenders of Wildlife group, said endangered species protections were needed to prevent “an all-out war on wolves” in states that would allow hunting.
USFWS officials have conducted multiple studies, court battles have been fought. The T’s have been crossed and proverbial “I’s” have been dotted. Hopefully, there are no more little bs loopholes that anti-hunting and wolf activist groups can hide behind to keep the wolves listed. The population numbers have been met, game agencies have shown hunted wolf populations can be maintained. The public will get a chance to comment on the proposals when it is officially announced in the coming days. Updates will be provided as they come.
What are your thoughts? Are you ready to hunt the gray wolf?