Wonderful news for Wolves
Victory for Wolves
Can’t better what was published in the New York Times a few days ago:
Donald Molloy, a Federal District Court judge in Montana, ruled Thursday that gray wolves in Montana and Idaho must be provided federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. This is a welcome decision. The immediate effect will be to spare the animals from hunts planned for this fall that are now illegal. The larger hope is that Washington will devise a protection plan ensuring the wolves’ survival not only in Montana and Idaho but across the northern Rocky Mountains.
Wolves in Montana and Idaho were removed from federal protection under rules proposed by the Bush administration. The rules were upheld by President Obama’s Interior Department, which said that both states had developed satisfactory management plans and that the wolves, in effect, could be released into their custody.
Wyoming’s plan was deemed inadequate, and federal protections remained. But in Montana and Idaho, the first reaction was to authorize limited wolf hunts that — though the states argued otherwise — would slowly guarantee the extinction of the species.
Judge Molloy ruled that protections for what is essentially a single species cannot be different in each state — either the wolf must be removed from the list or listed as an endangered species in every state, meaning throughout its range. Judging by early comments, the Interior Department’s preference seems to be to persuade Wyoming to improve its management plan so that the government can delist the wolf there — thus bringing the three states into harmony.
This is a terrible idea, and could end up authorizing hunts in three states, not two. The Interior Department, instead, should write an areawide management plan. There are roughly 1,700 wolves across the Rockies — far more than when they were reintroduced in the 1990s. But most biologists believe there should be a minimum of 2,000, with enough breeding pairs to ensure the long-term survival of a dynamic population across the range.
State plans meant to satisfy hunters rather than protect the wolves cannot do that. The gray wolf may need federal protection for years to come.
By Paul Handover