Anti-Hunting Groups Are Looking to Get Gray Wolves Protected in the Rockies

by Megan Molseed
anti-hunting-groups-are-looking-to-get-gray-wolves-protected-in-the-rockies

Anti-hunting groups are turning focus towards efforts to relist gray wolves within the Northern Rockies as an endangered species. Gray wolves were removed from endangered status in 2009 as hunting seasons for the animals resumed. However, the population has since seen increased “human-caused” mortality in the area, anti-hunting groups say.

The petition has been circulating among anti-hunting groups recently. And support continues to grow as the request gains more and more traction. The movement comes just after a lawsuit resulted in the wolves receiving extra federal protections throughout much of the rest of the United States.

Anti-Hunting Groups Push Petition To Relist Gray Wolves As A Protected Species

Eight environmental groups are joining forces in this effort. Among these groups are the WildEarth Guardians, the Endangered Species Coalition, and the Center for a Humane Economy. It is still currently legal to hunt wolves in the Northern Rockies which includes regions in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. And, state agencies set guidelines and regulations for hunting gray wolves. However, the anti-hunting groups note these harvest regulations are too high. Which, they say, is ultimately threatening the overall gray wolf population numbers.

“Idaho and Montana have drastically altered their wolf management laws,” the petition reads.

“And regulations to push populations below viable levels,” the statement continues. “Idaho, for instance, allows for essentially unregulated and unlimited wolf-killing.”

The Department of Interior Explores Whether or Not Gray Wolves Need Extra Protection

Last fall, the Department of the Interior began looking into whether or not gray wolves within the Northern Rockies are becoming an endangered species. The reason for this review, the department notes, is due to “increased human-caused mortality in Idaho and Montana.” 

“Recent laws passed in some Western states undermine state wildlife managers by promoting precipitous reductions in wolf populations,” notes Deb Haaland, the Secretary of the Interior.

“Such as removing bag limits, baiting, snaring, night hunting, and pursuit by dogs,” Haaland adds. “The same kind of practices that nearly wiped out wolves during the last century.”

A Regular Piece Of A Valuable Eco-System

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon states that the wolves will never again have to face an endangered status within the state. In fact, Gordon notes, hunting is a valuable tool within the ecosystem.

“Despite the assertions of those who blindly oppose state management, success is defined in the Endangered Species Act as achieving recovery and returning authority to the state wildlife management agencies,” the governor explains.

“Mankind must recognize that it is part of our ecosystem, not above it,” he continues.

“As Aldo Leopold put it ‘game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it,’” Gordon adds. “One of those tools for managing wolves is hunting.”

Right now, Idaho’s gray wolf population falls at around 1500. The annual harvest allowance in the state has been 500 for the last few years. Montana, which has a gray wolf population estimated to be about 1,200, set its gray wolf quota at 450 just last year. Additionally, Wyoming Game and Fish reported a gray wolf harvest of 104 with a statewide population of just 324 wolves.

Outsider.com