Wolves Win One in Battle With Ranchers

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday formally restored endangered species protections to the gray wolves of the western Great Lakes area—Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan—and Wyoming.

In a one-paragraph statement, the FWS explained that it had taken the action to comply with two federal court orders in 2014 that overturned the agency’s move to end special protections for the gray wolves in these states.

The courts said that the agency had not used the best science available to make those decisions and could not turn control of the wolves’ welfare over to states that would fail to protect their survival as a species.

In response to those rulings, the U.S. House of Representatives may consider two bills that would permanently prevent Great Lakes and Wyoming wolves from getting or keeping endangered species protections, no matter what shape their populations are in. 

Lawmakers used similar tactics in 2011 to end endangered species protections for gray wolves in northern Utah, eastern Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho.

“Gray wolves clearly continue to need the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Inserting politics into what should be a science-based decision is a dangerous trend that could lead to Congress stepping in every time a species becomes inconvenient to powerful special interests.”

The center is one of several conservation groups that have petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to change the Wyoming and Great Lakes wolves from “endangered” to “threatened” under federal law. The change would downgrade federal protections for the wolves, allowing local and state wildlife officials more flexibility to kill wolves that they felt were causing too many problems for ranchers, farmers, or other residents.

But it would also mean that the wolves in these states remain eligible and protected under the nation’s endangered species law.

Original article from TakePart