In an incredibly disappointing, but not entirely surprising move, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has announced its intention to strip gray wolves of federal protection in the lower 48, which their advocates fear will be a death sentence for them.
Gray wolves have already faced such heavy persecution that we nearly killed every single one of them by the 1900s with bounty programs, hunting and trapping. Protection that was put in place with the passage of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the 1970s finally helped put them back on the path to recovery, but their journey is far from over and they’re still functionally extinct in vast portions of their historic range.
Now, despite not having a plan in place to ensure their continued survival (which the government is currently facing a lawsuit over), David Bernhardt, the acting secretary of the Interior Department, announced a proposal to strip federal protection from all wolves in the lower 48 – with the exception of Mexican wolves.
Doing so would hand management responsibilities over to states that have already proven to be hostile to recovery efforts – opening the door to rampant hunting and trapping. Overall, it will hinder recovery efforts and all but ensure wolves never expand to portions of their historic range where it’s been determined there’s plenty of suitable habitat for them, including the Adirondacks, southern Rockies and other areas.
Gavin Shire, a spokesman for the FWS, said in a statement to the AP, “Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act is one of our nation’s great conservation successes, with the wolf joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink. ”
Despite what the FWS says, multiple conservation and advocacy organizations disagree, and argue that gray wolves are still far from recovered, and this move will push them back to the brink. They’re speaking out in opposition to the proposal, along with vowing to take action to ensure gray wolves aren’t delisted.
“This disgusting proposal would be a death sentence for gray wolves across the country,” said Collette Adkins, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Trump administration is dead set on appeasing special interests that want to kill wolves. We’re working hard to stop them.”
You can speak up against the Trump Administration’s war on wolves by signing and sharing the petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep them federally protected.
This article was first published by Care2.com on 11 Mar 2019.
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