One of the casualties from the recently passed federal budget plan is the Gray Wolf, who lost its endangered species status and protection due to a last minute annex, or rider, attached to the deal by two senators.
This late addition marks the first time that an animal has been removed from the the endangered species list, and a defeat for the environmentalists after years of legal battling.
The issue was whether or not the wolves had recovered in numbers enough from the heavy hunting that occurred in the US West to be allowed to be hunted again. Their numbers had dwindled to almost nothing until they gained protected status which allowed them to grow back to a population of 1,651 in the Rocky Mountain region.
However, many ranchers believe that wolves are a danger to humans and an even greater nuisance to their livestock, especially if the wolf population grows too large.
The issue began in the George W. Bush administration, where a move to remove the wolf from the endangered species list maintained by the Fish and Wildlife Service first started. In the last weeks of the administration, the controversial move to delist the wolf was set in motion and then upheld by the Obama administration, only to be overturned in 2010 when 14 environmental groups sued and won the case to prevent it from happening.
At this point, the case is closed, as the rider “actually bans citizens from suing the government over this issue”, said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We are going to have to regroup at this point and come at wolf recovery from a fresh angle because we have been shut down.”
Photo credit: wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/graphics/t_graywolf_kramer.jpg