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article imageGray wolf no longer endangered say US & Canadian agencies

By Stephanie Dearing     Aug 15, 2010 in Environment
Currently listed as 'endangered' in the United States, there is a growing movement to have the Gray wolf removed from the endangered species list. Three Canadian provinces have joined in the movement.
In 2008, Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, took the Gray wolves of Idaho and Montana, as well as the Great Lake Gray wolves, off the endangered species list, something he made official in 2009. That decision was challenged in two separate courtrooms, both which saw rulings ordering the goverment to relist the wolves as endangered.
As the BBC reported, in his ruling issued earlier this month, Judge Donald Molloy said the USA couldn't say the Gray wolf was endangered in one state but allow the same species to be hunted in other states. Either the species is endangered or it is not, Malloy said. His ruling echoed the earlier ruling on the Great Lake wolves.
But if anything, it appears the rulings maintaining the protection of the wolves has aroused a very strong determination to get the species delisted as endangered. Last week, a coalition of 13 US natural resources agencies, headed up by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) have sent a signed resolution to Ken Salazar, asking for America's Gray wolves to be delisted. That resolution was backed by three Canadian provinces. Secretary of the WDNR, Matt Frank said “... It’s clear in our minds that now is the time to turn over management of the wolf to the respective state natural resource management agencies.”
The judicial decision to reinstate the Gray wolf as endangered has been characterized by a Montana congressman as an abuse of process by environmentalists, reported the Clark Fork Chronicle. "It's become clear the courts and the environmental extremists have abandoned the principle of sound science when determining the status of the gray wolf. Years of research, dedicated efforts by land owners and local officials, and the expert opinions of on-the-ground wildlife managers have been given a back seat to profit-motivated environmental groups. We need to call attention to this abuse and solve an issue that should have been put to rest years ago."
The Fork Clark Chronicle also reported that Texas had tabled a bill seeking to overturn the protected status of the Gray wolf. That bill has been sent to the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources.
Gray wolves were very nearly exterminated in the USA by the 1940s. Plans to reintroduce the species to the Rocky Mountains, first made in the 1970s, met such fierce opposition, the wolves were not reintroduced until 1995 and 1996. The protected status of the Gray wolf was not something easily accepted by states such as Idaho, which has maintained since at least 2001 that it would seek to have the protection of the wolf overturned.
It is thought that Idaho is now home to just over 800 wolves. The state wants to see 300 wolves culled. The total western population is thought to be about 1,550 wolves. Wildlife management officials say that the number of wolves growing too big, causing problems for ranchers and wildlife. Concerns over predation saw 265 wolves killed in the three states in 2008, according to The Guardian. The cull included the elimination of 21 wolf packs.
In a press release following Judge Molloy's decision, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Tom Strickland said "... today’s ruling means that until Wyoming brings its wolf management program into alignment with those of Idaho and Montana, the wolf will remain under the protection of the Endangered Species Act throughout the northern Rocky Mountains. Since wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are now again subject to ESA protection, in the days ahead we will work closely with Idaho and Montana to explore all appropriate options for managing wolves in those states."
After Salazar delisted the Gray wolf, Idaho and Montana had established hunting seasons for the animals, but with the protection of the wolves reinstated, hunting is not allowed. Idaho officials had said they would find a way to allow hunting, and have since come up with wolf management plans that would see wolves culled to protect elk populations. And that means, reported Reuters, that hundreds of wolves will be killed in Idaho over the next five years.
While the IUCN lists the Gray wolf as a species of "least concern," organizations like Defenders of Wildlife say delisting the Gray wolf will put the species in danger all over again.
The Humane Society of the United States claims the movement to delist the Gray wolf from protection is largely led by livestock owners and hunters.
More about Gray wolf, Idaho, Endangered species
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