Sorry, Gray Wolves—Uncle Sam Isn’t Going to Protect You Anymore

Gray wolves were originally placed on the Endangered Species list almost 40 years ago, and since that time, innumerable efforts have been made to repopulate their packs.

But today, in what some characterize as an attempt to kowtow to ranchers and hunting groups, the Obama Administration announced its proposal to lift all remaining protections for the animals.

Under the new plan, federal protective mandates would end in 2014 for gray wolves throughout the contiguous 48 states, in a move that has hunters cheering and conservationists outraged.

In the meantime, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting and reviewing comments from the public.

We are proposing to delist the #graywolf ... but we will be taking comments. FAQ on our proposal here:

— US Fish and Wildlife (@USFWSHQ) June 7, 2013

The rationale for lifting the protections is said to be an increase in wolf numbers and a resurgence in biodiversity in the regions that wolf packs inhabit.

But while it’s true the species’ numbers have risen somewhat over the years, critics of the proposal say that it’s still far too early to declare the animals have been “saved”—they inhabit portions of just 10 states, whereas they previously occupied the vast expanse of North America.

And in the states where protections for wolves have already been lifted, hunters and trappers have succeeded in killing about 1,600 of them. It’s no wonder; in places like Idaho, the hunting season is nine months long, and in most of Wyoming, wolves can be shot on sight.

Dan Ashe, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director, explained the proposal to the Washington Post, “Science is an important part of this decision, but really the key is the policy question of when is a species recovered?” he said. “Does the wolf have to occupy all the habitat that is available to it in order for it to be recovered? Our answer to that question is no.”

But others, like the National Resources Defense Council, say the argument to delist is shortsighted. A senior scientist with the organization Sylvia Fallon wrote in response to the news, “This sweeping proposal would close the door on wolf recovery long before the job is done. Large swaths of suitable wolf habitat remain unoccupied, because wolves are only just beginning to disperse from, and colonize beyond, the northern Rocky Mountain and western Great Lakes regions…”

Gray wolves tend to be a lightening rod for arguments between conservationists and ranchers. Under the former, these beasts are prized for being apex predators; they’re key components to ecosystem health, which includes the promotion of biodiversity, healthier elk and deer populations, and reforestation.

Unfortunately, they’re also viewed as parasitic by the agriculture and ranching industries due to their predation of livestock and big game.

The more fortunate news is that this fight isn’t over. The Obama Administration’s proposal is still just a proposal. But if it passes next year, the gray wolf could find itself more endangered than ever.

What are you going to tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about delisting the gray wolf? Let us know in the Comments.

Related stories on TakePart:

View Comments (311)

Recommended for You

  • Luggage piece found on French island near possible MH370 debris

    Part of a bag was found Thursday on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from missing flight MH370. "The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention," said Johnny Begue, a member of a local…

  • Chicago man cleared after 17 years in prison shot dead

    CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 17 years in prison for murder before being cleared of the crime has been shot and killed almost three years after being released from prison, police said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Family Pet-Sitter Helps Herself To Homeowner's Possessions

    DEAR ABBY: A trusted and beloved family member who takes care of my cats -- and therefore has a key to my house -- has been stealing things like cleaning supplies, knickknacks, family pictures, etc. Most of them have little monetary value. But imagine my surprise when I spotted some of my missing…

    Dear Abby
  • Play

    Body cam footage from Cincinnati shooting contradicts official story

    A University of Cincinnati police officer has been indicted for murder after body camera footage contradicted his official story outlining the events that led to the shooting death of unarmed Cincinnati driver Samuel Dubose.

    Reuters Videos
  • An American Dentist Killed Zimbabwe’s Famous Lion

    Cecil the lion, a famous black-maned resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, died at the hands of an American dentist, conservationists claim. “Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in…
  • Hidden Security Cameras Are Shocking Surprise For Daughter

    DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old woman in college who still lives with my parents. I found out something several weeks ago that's bothering me, and I need advice badly. Years ago, after a robbery, my parents installed security cameras outside our house. I knew about them because they were visible. But…

    Dear Abby
  • Taliban disavows Afghan peace talks after leader declared dead

    By Kay Johnson KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban's official spokesman disavowed peace talks with the Afghan government on Thursday, throwing fledgling efforts to negotiate an end to 14 years of war into disarray. The statement came a day after the Afghan government said that Mullah Omar, the elusive…

  • Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put 'hole in head' of driver

    Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it's now on YouTube.

  • Colorado theater shooter's dad saw wide-eyed smirk before

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — James Holmes came home on winter break from graduate school looking haggard and making odd facial expressions, but his father didn't suspect at the time that he was descending into mental illness.

    Associated Press
  • Trump leads Republicans, but Democrats thump him: poll

    Bombastic US billionaire Donald Trump handily leads all fellow Republicans in the 2016 presidential race, though Hillary Clinton and other Democrats trump him in head-to-head matchups, a poll said Thursday. Trump plunged into the crowded Republican nomination battle last month, and has since…

  • Teens' 6 days adrift verge on limits for survival at sea

    TEQUESTA, Fla. (AP) — Crews pushed the limits of an ever-expanding search zone Wednesday for two teens missing at sea and potentially nearing the boundaries of human survival.

    Associated Press
  • Killer deal: Amazon will pay you $10 to buy a $30 Google Chromecast

    Google’s little Chromecast dongle is pretty awesome. The device plugs into the HDMI port on any HDTV or monitor and instantly gives users access to movies, TV shows, videos, music, photos and more that can be streamed from any Android device. Best of all, perhaps, the Chromecast is wonderfully…

    BGR News
  • View

    Creeping vines, abandoned village (20 photos)

    Just a handful of people still live in a village on Shengshan Island east of Shanghai that was once home to more than 2,000 fishermen. Every day hundreds of tourists visit Houtouwan, making their way on narrow footpaths past tumbledown houses overtaken by vegetation. The remote village, on one of…

    Yahoo News
  • Independent media battle on in Putin's Russia

    By Timothy Heritage MOSCOW (Reuters) - Alexei Venediktov, one of Russia's most prominent journalists, does not go out without a bodyguard and does not answer mobile phone calls for fear of being tracked. Such precautions do not seem out of place in a country where at least 17 journalists have been…

  • Internet mauls dentist accused of illegal kill of popular lion

    Technically Incorrect: Walter Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, has his Yelp entry attacked by those not fond of his allegedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

  • Kurdish rebels attack Turkish security forces, killing 5

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Kurdish rebels have attacked Turkish security forces in two separate assaults in southeast Turkey, killing five people, officials said. One rebel was also killed.

    Associated Press
  • Boko Haram 'slits throats of 10 fishermen' near Lake Chad

    Boko Haram Islamists slit the throats of 10 fishermen in villages near Baga on the shores of the Lake Chad in northeastern Nigeria, a leading fisherman and a resident said Thursday. "On Monday around 4 pm (1500 GMT), Boko Haram attacked three villages on the shores of Lake Chad where they…