The Gray Wolf Needs Your Help: This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (FWS) announced a 30-day public comment period in its newest attempt to remove the Northern Rockies gray wolf from the endangered species list. The latest attempt to delist the gray wolf appears to be on a fast track in order for the final delisting rule to be completed before the end of the Bush administration.
Dear U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service,
I am concerned about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's newest proposal to delist the gray wolf from the endangered species list.
The proposal addresses wolves in a piecemeal fashion as three distinct populations rather than as a metapopulation in the northern Rockies. It segments wolves based on political state lines rather than biological or habitat lines, proposing to remove wolves from federal protection in Idaho and Montana but not in Wyoming.
FWS should not propose to delist wolves from the endangered species list until Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have wolf management plans that will allow wolf populations to grow. Instead, the three states have aggressive management plans that do not commit to managing wolves above minimum levels. In Wyoming, wolves are classified as predators in nearly 90 percent of the state and can be shot on sight. This could mean a dramatic reduction in wolf numbers.
These aggressive management plans that could reduce wolf populations below current levels are problematic because scientists say that the long-term genetic viability of wolves in the northern Rockies could be in jeopardy. FWS's answer to this is to translocate wolves or use other means, such as artificial insemination, to increase genetic diversity among northern Rocky wolves. If FWS has to artificially manufacture genetic diversity in a population in order to ensure that species' survival, I think it's too early to remove federal protection.
I would urge FWS to slow down and evaluate whether this is the appropriate time to delist the gray wolf.
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