Environment

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Gray Wolf May Be Headed Back to Endangered List

September 25, 2008 01:22 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has changed its mind about its decision earlier this year to remove the animal’s protected status.

Agency Rethinks Delisting

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked a federal judge to vacate the decision, made in March, to delist the gray wolf from the protected species list. The request was made on Monday, when the agency asked U.S. District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy to vacate the delisting and to re-examine the issue.

“We are going to take a look at everything again and address the concerns expressed to us by the judge and everyone else,” said Sharon Rose of the agency's Mountain Prairie Office, according to The New York Times.

In July, Molloy had sided with environmentalists, granting an injunction to those who had challenged the wolves’ removal from the endangered species list. He issued a 40-page statement in which he sharply criticized the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision on March 28 to remove the animal from the endangered species list.

“Congress does not intend agency decision-making to be fickle. When it is, the line separating rationality from arbitrariness and capriciousness is crossed,” Molloy wrote. He also said that the injunction “ensures the species is not imperiled” while the case undergoes further litigation.

The delisting would have made the state governments of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana responsible for managing gray wolves living in the northern Rockies.

Background: Environmental groups file lawsuit

State officials argued that they could maintain wolf populations despite the fact that in many areas the animals could be shot at will. But opponents to the delisting contended that unchecked hunting would undo population gains and return the species to the brink of extinction.

An April 13, 2008, New York Times article outlines the delisting debate that preceded the April 28 federal court challenge: “A fierce battle of perceptions and posturing has unfolded on the Web and in the news media as pro-wolf and anti-wolf forces stake out sometimes hyperbolic positions concerning where in the West animals and humans should exist.”

Opinion & Analysis: The pros and cons of delisting the gray wolf

Against delisting
Among those against delisting include John Harrigan, columnist for the New Hampshire newspaper the Union Leader, who argues against hunting the wolves because he doesn't think "wolves in the West are at the point where they 'need' to be controlled, as if they would ever 'need' to be anyway." He goes on to say, "Trees, for instance, don't need to be cut; we cut them because we want and need to, for the wood and the money."

The Center for Biological Diversity published a press release on April 28, declaring its opposition to the delisting. According to the Center, "Delisting further endangers wolves because of increased wolf killing, reduced wolf numbers, and less genetic exchange between wolf populations."
For delisting
Douglas Gantenbein argued, “By all means, let the ranchers protect their cattle. We didn't reintroduce wolves so they could eat beef … If the wolf can obtain the status of prized big-game trophy—and many think it can—it will have the most powerful ally of any animal in America: the hunter.”

An article from New West analyzes the idea of conserving the species through hunting. The article writes that Carolyn Sime, wolf coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, “believes public hunting will develop a strong hunter constituency that advocates for wolves politically and helps protect and improve habitat, just as hunters do now for other animals like deer, elk and mountain lions.”

Reference: Defenders of Wildlife

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