By: ASHLEY HOPKINS
On Thursday, October 29, the Trump administration and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed wolves from the protection of the Endangered Species act in the lower 48 states. The only exception was a small population of Mexican gray wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The administration has now decided to put states in charge of how to protect, or not protect, the long endangered species.
This announcement means that wolf hunts could resume in states like Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to World Animal News, approximately 2 million Americans were against the Trump Administration’s plan to remove these virtually extinct animals from the protection of the Endangered species act. This was the highest amount of comments ever recorded regarding a federal decision about endangered species.
“Wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to be cruelly trapped and gunned down for sport. The Interior Department is catering to trophy hunters, the livestock industry, and other special interests that want to kill wolves. We’ll do everything we can to stop it,” said the Director of Carnivore Conservation at the Center for Biological Diversity, Collete Adkins. There are only about 5,500 wolves left in the continental United States, which says a lot because there used to be hundreds of thousands.
According to Bonnie Rice, Senior Campaign Representative for Sierra Club, “We should be putting much more effort into coexistence with wolves, working to ensure that populations in the lower 48 are thriving and are able to play out their ecological role balancing our natural systems, instead of stripping critical protections still needed for their full recovery.” Over recent years, wolves have begun showing signs of recovery, but they are nowhere close to being fully recovered.
Wolves are a keystone species, so without them, nature will be disrupted. In 1926, wolves went extinct in Yellowstone National Park. Elk populations began to rise at an alarming rate, causing overgrazing and drastically dropping the conditions of the park. The park services began to kill the elk because there were no predators in the park that could help regulate the population. The lack of wolves also caused a growth in coyote populations, resulting in damage to the rodent and antelope population within Yellowstone.
“Wolves are only starting to get a toehold in places like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and wolves need federal protection to explore habitat in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast. This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy — and it’s illegal, so we will see them in court, ” said Earth justice attorney Kristen Boyles. The past events in Yellowstone are a perfect example of how the USFWS and Trump Administrations’ decision to remove these animals from protection could prove to be an unrecoverable mistake.