Should wolves stay protected under Endangered Species Act?

wolf photo
CC BY 2.0 Fremlin

Ted Williams, a hunter, conservationist, and writer, has asked this question in a piece published on Yale e360. He writes:

On June 13 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protection for all wolves in the contiguous states save about 75 of the Mexican subspecies in Arizona and New Mexico. There’s now a 90-day public comment period, and the service is being torn apart like a geriatric moose... When a species is out of danger it must be “delisted” so that limited resources can be allocated to species in real trouble. Most U.S. wolves south of Alaska are in the northern Rockies (Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming) and the Lake States (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), and they’ve already been delisted. But is the Fish and Wildlife Service right when it says it’s time to delist the rest? It could not be more wrong, say many conservationists and some wildlife biologists.

The question comes down to humans. It is a long and arduous process to get a species listed as Endangered in order to access the funds and protections provided by the status. Some species go extinct while waiting. Should the wolf, an animal still deeply persecuted, count as "out of danger" enough to be delisted in areas where it has not already been delisted?

While some believe the plan is premature, Williams notes: "But as the fur flies it’s time to reflect on what the Fish and Wildlife Service has been up against and what it has accomplished. Playing politics with the ESA is not just okay; it’s essential. And the agency’s brilliant politicking over the last 30 years is the reason wolves in the northern Rockies and Lake States really are recovered."

Read his entire opinion piece, and learn quite a bit about the recent history of and politics around wolf recovery efforts, over at Yale e360. Be sure to read the comments as well -- there are interesting points and debate brought up there too.

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