Friday, October 30, 2020

Interior Department issues final rule removing Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves, numbering 6,000

A gray wolf and pups in California's Lassen National Forest (U.S. Forest Service trail camera photo via Washington Post)

"The Trump administration announced Thursday that it is stripping gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections in the Lower 48 states, ignoring an outcry from conservation groups and scientists who say the animals will be slaughtered as a result and might not survive," Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post. "Under a final rule expected to go into effect early next week . . . state wildlife agencies will assume control of managing an estimated 6,000 wolves, mostly in three Midwestern states — Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota." An estimated 1,800 are in other states.

“After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in announcing the decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Fears reports, "The population is up from 1,000 when gray wolves were listed as endangered starting in 1967, officials said. But their population is still so depleted that thousands of acres of historical wolf habitat in Utah, Colorado and Maine is uninhabited by any wolves, conservationists said."

This is "the second time in the last decade that federal wildlife officials have tried to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list, where they say the animals no longer belong now that they’re thriving in the wild," notes Anna Phillips of the Los Angeles Times. "Like the previous attempt, which took place under the Obama administration, this latest effort is expected to face legal challenges."

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