Gray Wolf May Be Removed From Endangered Species List


Recently, a proposal was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list and focus their efforts on the recovery of the Mexican wolf, which is still endangered.

Until recently, the gray wolf was considered endangered and near extinction. Since settlers moved to the Americas the wolf has been considered a threat to both people and livestock, and a conscious effort was made to kill many wolves on sight.

In the 1990’s a program was implemented in order to reintroduce gray wolves to the United States. Mated pairs of wolves were released into Yellowstone National Park and were closely monitored by radio collar and by sight. Even with their status as an endangered species, many people, especially famers, were worried about the effects of a growing wolf population on their livestock, and therefore on their livelihood. Others were worried about how the reintroduction of wolves would affect the populations of deer, elk, and other large game.

Today, the gray wolf population has reached stability for its current range of habitat. There are still nowhere near as many wolves as their used to be in the United States, however, for the area in which they occupy, the wolf population is doing well enough that they no longer need the protection of being listed as an endangered species. And as one of the few remaining top predators in the United States, they are important for helping control the population size of prey animals, which in turn allows trees and other plants a chance to replenish and restore to feed the entire cycle over again.

Removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list allows focus on other endangered species like the Mexican wolf, which faces the same problems the gray wolf had. However, the gray wolf would not be left entirely unprotected. There would still be rules about when it is appropriate to kill wolves, such as in protection of people or livestock, and techniques available in order to discourage wolves from frequenting an area. The current penalties for killing a wolf without cause are fines, jail time, and possible revoking of hunting licenses. Should the wolf be removed from the endangered species list, more concrete regulations regarding the wolves would be decided on. The proposal for removing the gray wolf from the Endangered and Threatened Wildlife list is still in the public comment period, and will remain so until December 17, 2013.

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