Return of the Wolves
Wolves off Endangered List
Management of species turned over to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana
"Wolves proved so resilient in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana that today the US Fish and Wildlife Service removed them from the Endangered Species List, turning their management over to the states, along with the $3 million yearly price tag. The delisting doesn't affect Colorado, because there have been virtually no wolves in the state since the 1930s, aside from a few cases of individual wolves found the past few years — either their footsteps spotted, or a carcass found on a major highway."
"The expansion of the wolf population has been stunning," said LyleLaverty, assistant secretary of Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "It's because of years and years of hard work from academics, consumergroups, landowners, state governments. We're confident the wolves will be in good hands." Hall said about a quarter of all adult wolves in the area die each year, either from being shot, run over or other causes. Still, the wolfpopulation has been expanding 24 percent a year. Wolves and humans are the species that spread over the most land area on planet Earth.
Read the full article in the Rocky Mountain News
This summary paints this as if it's a wonderful thing for the wolves, but the practical upshot of this is to make it so they can be killed without any legal ramifications. This isn't just an unintended side effect of delisting. There are about 1500 wolves in the Northern Rockies now; the new plan legally allows this number to drop to just 300, 100 per state, and Idaho is already making explicit plans to "manage" wolves with hunting as if they were big game animals. (From a Salt Lake City Tribune article, "Officials said Idaho hunters with wolf tags will be allowed to kill either males or females as it would be too difficult to tell them apart"; hunters will be given more "tags" than there are wolves to be killed, with an honor system requiring hunters to report killing a wolf within 24 hours to make sure quotas aren't exceeded.)
If the states involved showed any interest in establishing sustainability management plans for wolves, this might not be *bad* news. But wolves aren't that far over minimum sustainability levels at this point; this is being done for political reasons based on rather hysterical anti-wolf propaganda. (For all the claims about how wolves decimate livestock, the statistics simply don't back it up; in 2005, 190,000 cattle out of 104.5 million -- 0.18% -- were killed by predators, and of those, only 2% were attributed to wolves. Coyotes -- whose range expanded dramatically largely because of wolf eradication programs -- caused about 25 times more loss. Domestic dogs caused about 6 times more!)
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