Feds Defend Plan to Drop Wolves

September 30, 2013 (AP)

By JOHN FLESHER AP Associated Press

Federal officials offered a staunch defense Monday of their proposal to drop legal protections for the gray wolf in most of the country, as opponents rallied in the nation’s capital before the first in a series of public hearings on the plan.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called for removing the wolf from the endangered species list for the lower 48 states in June, except for a subspecies called the Mexican wolf in the Southwest, which is struggling to survive. Ranching and hunting groups have praised the proposal, while environmentalists have said it is premature.

A final decision will be made within a year, following a scientific analysis of the agency’s proposal and three public hearings, the first of which was being held Monday in Washington. The others are scheduled for Wednesday in Sacramento, Calif., and Friday in Albuquerque, N.M., although officials said they will be postponed if the government partially shuts down because of the fight in Congress over the health care overhaul.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe acknowledged the fierce opposition to the wolf plan from many advocacy groups, scientists and members of Congress. They say the predator remains in a tenuous position despite bouncing back from the last century, when trapping, shooting and poisoning encouraged by federal bounties left just a few hundred survivors in Minnesota by the time they were placed on the protected list in 1974.

“There’s certainly no more polarizing issue than wolves,” Ashe said.

But he said the agency’s mission is not to restore an endangered species in every place it once lived. Rather, it is to ensure that a species is established and thriving in enough places that it won’t die out.

“Recovery of the wolf is one of the greatest conservation success stories in the history of our nation … a poster child of what we can achieve through the protections of the Endangered Species Act even for our most imperiled species,” Ashe said.

More than 5,000 gray wolves roam the land, primarily in the western Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and the northern Rockies states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Minnesota officials said in July their population has dropped in the past five years by more than 700 animals — to about 2,200 — with the resumption of hunting and a decline in deer on which they prey.

Wolves also have spread to the Pacific Northwest. In Washington state, the population is estimated to be 50 to 100 wolves.

“We continue to believe that wolves are healthy, well distributed, genetically connected and continuing to prosper,” Ashe said.

Brett Hartl, of the Center for Biological Diversity, was among the proposal’s critics who planned to testify at the Washington hearing.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is walking away from recovery even though wolves occupy just a fraction of their former range and face continued persecution,” Hartl said. “Large swaths of the American landscape would benefit from the presence of these top carnivores.”

In a study published this month, the Klamath Center for Conservation Research said the wolves’ chances in the West may depend on whether they can stake out new territory, instead of being bottled up in a few areas.

Ashe said the wolf still could return to states such as Colorado, Utah and Nevada, but that protecting them would be up to state governments.

More: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/feds-defend-plan-drop-gray-wolf-protection-20421604?page=2

copyrighted Hayden wolf walking

10 thoughts on “Feds Defend Plan to Drop Wolves

  1. Success story? Sure, right up until the USFWS thought it would be a good idea giving authority over grey wolves to the states they reside in. Seriously, they understood the culture when they were delivering the wolves to Yellowstone National Park – reintroduction teams had to have a decoy van just to evade potential threats from airhead yahoos bent on killing something they don’t understand beyond what their shortsighted grandparents believed. And furthermore that element did not exactly warm up to the idea of having to live with the predators post day one of the
    wolves setting foot in Yellowstone. Instead they have gotten louder and more malicious than ever… or maybe they are just more open to the idea of torture because wolves have been turned into the political football they wanted. Politics and manipulation of politics are, after all, what they excel at. No this is not right, for crying out loud, they will be turning a success story into a catastrophe.

  2. Even the Mexican wolf, which USFWS begrudgingly plans to continue to recognize as endangered, is not safe, thanks to their inclusion of USDA Wildlife Services in the revised wolf plan. Apparently the so-called government shutdown cannot stop these wildlife killers: “APHIS performs other wildlife damage management activities, including trapping and relocation of animals, that cause damage to agriculture, natural resources, or property. These services are performed through cooperative funding agreements.” http://www.usda.gov/documents/usda-aphis-shutdown-plan.pdf

  3. Pingback: Music Themes: WOLVES « bearspawprint

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