Photo from ellenlostin
Within weeks, grey wolves in the Northern Rockies will be on the business-end of high-powered hunting rifles. Most people remember back in May 2009 that the Obama Administration delisted the wolves from the endangered species list. Now, since their current status isn't protected by the federal government, Idaho and Montana will open hunting season on the wolves. Last year, half of the wolves in Idaho were targeted to be killed when the species was delisted by the Bush Administration. Wolf hunters are hoping this year's quotas are even higher as environmentalists file lawsuits to prohibit this new killing season. On Aug 17, 2009, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission will announce its hunting quota for wolves. On Aug 31, Montana will begin to allow hunters to kill wolves, and then on Sept 1, Idaho will open their own season. A wolf hunting licenses is a mere $19 for residents and $350 for nonresidents in Montana and about $26 for residents in Idaho. The hunting season will run from early Sept through late Nov. If quotas aren't met, the season may be extended into late Dec.
One Year Ago
Last year, plans were developed to shot and kill hundreds of wolves before an injunction returned protection to the apex predator. With guidelines for how to define a "health population" of wolves being out-of-date, individual states have the ability to set quotas abnormally high. This year, organizations such as the Defenders of Wildlife are worried more than 2/3 of the wolves in Idaho could be wiped out.
Photo from University of Alberta
Though biologists contend that a long-term, sustainable metapopulation of wolves would number between 2000 to 5000, most state management plans call for no more than 10 breeding packs totaling no more than 150 individuals. This translates into deathly math for populations of Idaho with an estimated 1000 wolves.
Despite Your Face
This type of extermination could have hunters shooting themselves in the foot. For years, they have claimed that wolves are responsible for thinning elk herds. Yet, studies show that wolves may have a positive effect on populations. Moreover, elk and other ungulate populations are more at peril from human caused environmental problems such as the introduction of evasive plant species destroying natural food supplies and extended droughts due to climate change.
Chart from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Several organizations are fighting to have the wolves reinstated as endangered. The fact that the Obama Administration ever delisted the species in the first place shows a high level of inconsistency with regard to natural conservation. The White House provided large funding opportuntities for habitat restoration through ARRA, why they don't see it a priority to protect wolves seems odd. Nevertheless, if neither Congress nor the President nor some other act of government or God doesn't change the facts — grey wolves will begin to die in large numbers just at the end of this summer.