Under a settlement reached between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and a coalition of animal rights’ zealots who sued, gray wolves in the western Great Lakes States have been temporarily put back on the Endangered Species List—again.
Earlier this year, and with overwhelming scientific justification, the USFWS had delisted wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Wolves were also delisted in several Rocky Mountain states and a separate lawsuit is underway to restore protection for them.)
Claiming a victory, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) boasted on their website that this court decision “would have allowed hostile state wildlife agencies to subject wolves to widespread and indiscriminate killings at the hand of state agents, farmers and trophy hunters.”
In truth, states are clamoring for the right to manage wolves, and by all wildlife management standards, wolves need to be delisted and control turned over to those states. And what’s most disturbing about this decision is that the delisting wasn’t stalled because of any scientific reason. The biological justification is there, and as USFWS spokeswoman Georgia Parham says, “The biology isn’t going to change.”
No, delisting was stalled because (Horrors!!) USFWS failed to hold a public comment period before announcing the removal of the Great Lakes wolves. This bureaucratic thread actually held up in court, despite the fact that pubic comments periods had been held in previous attempts to remove wolves from the list.
So, the process now begins again. USFWS will go back, look for any new information that applies, write another rule proposing that wolves be delisted—and then open up the rule for public comment. (We’ll let you know when the comment period opens.)
Of course, we certainly support public comment periods. But USFWS has tried six times now to delist wolves, and they’ve been stymied every time by radical animal rightists’ lawsuits. They don’t care about the comment period. They just don’t want wolves ever hunted. Indeed, Jonathan Loworn, chief counsel for HSUS, said, “This agreement will … hopefully put to rest the states’ reckless plans to start sport hunting and trapping imperiled wolves.”
HSUS and other animal rights’ groups no doubt think they are winning something by keeping wolves protected so far. But the fact of life is this: All the animals that share habitat with wolves—elk, deer, moose, sheep, cattle and even dogs—are affected by wolf numbers. By “affected,” I mean they get eaten, and the balance of their numbers can suffer. To me, that means the animal protectionists are defeating their own goals.
Wolves are certainly not the evil, indiscriminate killers some fools would have us believe. But they do kill to live and that’s a fact. Allowing wolves to populate far, far beyond the numbers needed for recovery is not a victory—not for the animal rightists, not for the game that shares habitat with wolves, and not for the wolves themselves. And ceaseless litigation that wastes taxpayers’ money and government agencies’ time is not a victory for anyone.
I have received a few comments from members who believe wolves should not be hunted. I urge them to review other articles we’ve written (see below) on the subject, or to research it independently. Even disregarding the toll that wolves take on livestock, the justification for managing them is similar to that for managing any other big game species—to keep a population at a healthy balance.
Find Out More:
Research Offers 10 Reasons to Manage Wolves
Antis Howl Over New Wolf Rules
Salazar Affirms Wolf Delisting