Yesterday the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) published in the Federal Register its reckless proposal to remove gray wolves from endangered species status in the entire lower 48 United States. The entry is long and sounds scholarly, but it is not.
Roger Hewitt of Great Falls wrote in a letter to the Missoulian ~ "Look at the list of anti-wolf groups wanting to have the wolf delisted in the lower 48 and manage wolves on a state-by-state basis, which in effect puts the fate of the wolf in traditional wolf-hating, marginalizing hands so that ungulates like elk can be farmed, and these groups are still using three lies and myths that have no basis in fact, science or logic ~
- Wolves are significantly depredating cattle.
- Wolves are depredating elk.
- The wolf is sufficiently recovered in the lower 48, so can be turned over to state management because they are best managed at the state level.
- Wolves are not significantly depredating cattle only 0.002 percent in Montana in the past few years with only 67 of 2.6 million cattle last year (2012).
- Elk numbers are up in all states ~ 37 percent in Montana since wolf re-introduction (1995), and Wyoming has had 10 years in a row of record elk harvest.
- Wolves are not best managed at the state level because of the political nature of wolf management at the state-by-state level and the liaison of wildlife agencies with hunter groups and ranchers."
This morning I visited the federal government's website for commenting on the FWS proposal. Here is the gist of my remarks ~
- Gray wolf recovery is not complete. This decision would derail wolf recovery efforts in areas around the country where it has barely begin ~ in places like the Pacific Northwest and in states that possess some of the nation's best unoccupied wolf habitat, such as northern California, Colorado, and Utah.
- Delisting would prematurely turn wolf management over to the states. We've already seen what can happen when rabid anti-wolf politics are allowed to trump science and core wildlife management principles.
- Montana, Wyoming and Idaho ~ where wolves have already been delisted ~ are not managing wolves like other wildlife such as elk, deer, and bears. Instead, they're intending to drive the wolves' population numbers back down to the bottom.
- Other species, such as the bald eagle, American alligator, and peregrine falcon were declared recovered and delisted when they occupied a much larger portion of their former range. Wolves deserve the same chance at real recovery.
There is a 90-day public comment period before a final decision is made to implement the proposal, and I urge everyone to speak out on this transparently political move which has no basis in science, and is opposed by wolf ecologists, by those who study biodiversity, and by those who (like me) have worked with endangered species.