Today, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the Wyoming population of gray wolves is recovered and no longer warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Beginning September 30th, wolves in Wyoming will be managed by the state under the approved management plan, as they are in the states of Idaho and Montana. The approved plan is virtually the same exact plan that was previously rejected by USFWS in past.
USFWS has stated on more than one occasion that a cut in federal wolf management funding comes along with taking wolves off the Endangered Species List. We agree, it is lack of funding and special interest pressure that pushed USFWS to approve the Wyoming wolf plan - certainly not science.
More than 60 percent of Wyoming's wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park -- including pups -- could be wiped out within a year. Wolves that wander beyond the invisible border of Yellowstone National Park could be shot dead.
Photo courtesy of Wolfwatcher's Yellowstone Adviser Brandi Nichols
Overall, we assert that the plan recklessly removes protections for gray wolves in a manner that can potentially unravel the scientific recovery of wolves across the entire region; it allows wolf hunting in important wildlife corridors which endangers wolves' connectivity with neighboring wolves in Idaho, and thus, will negatively impact their biological diversity. The plan affords no protection to wolves in almost 90% of the state; it allows two-thirds of Wyoming's wolves to be shot on sight, trapped, aerial gunned, gassed, or even chased to exhaustion and exterminated by anyone, at any time, for any reason without a hunting license. Independent scientists say that 2,000 to 3,000 wolves are needed for a sustainable, fully recovered population. We believe that with USFWS approval today comes certain devastation to wild wolves in the entire region.
Once described by the American Society of Mammalogists as "the most destructive organized agency that has ever menaced so many species of our native fauna," let's not forget that USFWS was formerly the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey which played a large role in the extirpation of wolves from the lower 48 states. While they may not be directly involved with killing wolves today, it seems the agency seeks to pass this legacy on to the state agencies that will. USFWS's Mission Statement states, "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission is working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people." How does this apply to the bloodbath that will certainly take place in Wyoming in coming months? Those of us who want to see true recovery are the majority, so who are these American people they are talking about?
Wolfwatcher wholeheartedly endorses and supports the swift and powerful actions of fellow conservation organizations that have announced plans to legally challenge this decision in court. We will be providing you with information about these efforts, and we strongly encourage you to support them, as well. We will also continue to monitor these and other developments to keep you better informed.