The government plans to remove Endangered Species Act protection for the Gray Wolf in the Lower 48
The Gray Wolf has long been considered one of the most important species in American conservation, attracting public interest especially after reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park in the 1990s. The wild Gray Wolf population has grown to over 5,000 in the Lower 48 since being listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. These populations are monitored actively by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Plans to delist the Gray Wolf have caused a significant amount of backlash from the public.
The Gray Wolf is considered a cornerstone species, serving as an instrumental factor, as an apex predator, in the stability of prey species in its range. While wolves historically lived throughout much of the contiguous states, their range has been reduced to populations in the Western Great Lakes and the Northern Rocky Mountains according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Dept. of the Interior has proposed a rule to delist the Gray Wolf in the Lower 48, arguing that states have the ability to maintain healthy populations of the cornerstone species. The acting Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, argues the “facts are clear and indisputable—the gray wolf no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species.” Delisting would also place the question of the protection of wolves who prey on livestock in state hands.
Critics argue that the close watch of federal protection under the ESA is vital to the species’ recovery. Wes Siler, writing for Outside Magazine, arguing the recovery of gray wolves is disputed by most actors involved, and that the reality of people disliking wolves as an apex predator is having too strong an influence in the debate. He continues, providing evidence that wolves pose no inherent or statistically-verifiable danger to humans.
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