In 2009, hunting of the gray wolf in the United States became legal in Montana and Idaho. Although it is still controversial, the gray wolf has been taken off the endangered species list after it’s population started growing larger.
Some ranchers have claimed that hunting of gray wolves is necessary, as they threaten their livestock and, therefore, their livelihood.
To expand on Kelsie’s answer, the gray wolves were on the endangered species list until the Bush Administration proposed removing them from protection in Montana and Idaho in 2008. Adopted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the delisting was put into effect in 2009. The wolf’s population had risen to 1600 individuals after 20 years of conservation efforts, but the new ruling would allow them to fall to 450 across the region. Both states scheduled public wolf hunts the following fall; Montana killing 72 wolves and Idaho 188.
Meanwhile 12 conservation organizations including Defenders of Wildlife filed a lawsuit claiming that the ruling was only taking political boundaries into consideration instead of science. In August 5th of last year, the courts overruled the delisting, saying that it violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This will prevent a second mass wolf hunt this fall and will prevent further setbacks in wolf recovery.
It’s a difficult situation. Wolf populations have certainly made a comeback in the last decades, but there’s definitely disagreement as to whether it’s significant enough allow its delisting from the Endangered Species List. Nevertheless, as the wolf’s population has recovered there has been a clear increase in the number of attacks on livestock, so I can see why ranchers and farmers are concerned.
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