On Thursday, the Trump administration announced its decision to stop protecting the gray wolf under the endangered species protection laws. Because of this decision, conservation experts are up in arms. Many of them now fear that this latest move will pave the way for this iconic predator to be widely tracked and hunted down by hunters.
The conservation groups were quick to slam Trump administration’s latest move. According to the groups, the gray wolf population has so far only partly recovered since the animal was first listed back in 1974. The groups argued that these creatures still remain “functionally extinct” in the vast majority of their former range.
“Today’s action reflects the Trump administration’s continued commitment to species conservation based on the parameters of the law and the best scientific and commercial data available,” said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The department, in a press statement, said that the gray wolf population in the lower 48 states is more than 6,000. According to the department, this number is “greatly exceeding the combined recovery goals for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes populations.”
The latest decision to place these wolves under state control will allow states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota to resume their hunting and trapping activities. Back in 2014, these activities were prohibited by a court ruling.
A point to be noted here is that all of these three states are being considered as battlegrounds in the upcoming November 3 election between Joe Biden and the current US President Donald Trump. With this latest move, Trump is seeking to woo rural voters such as hunters and livestock owners into voting for him.
The gray wolf was once highly-feared apex predator. However, during the 1930s, the gray wolf began to eliminated across much of the United States. In fact, the than government actually sponsored many hunting, trapping and poisoning programs.
But the gray wolf population had started to increase thanks to protection that the wolfs received under the Endangered Species Act.
Conservationists argue that the latest move is very premature. So far, the wolves have re-populated only 15 percent of their former range, the conservationists added.
“This is no ‘mission accomplished’ moment for wolf recovery,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney for Earthjustice. The attorney called the move “illegal” and said it would sue the government.
“Wolves are only starting to get a toehold in places like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and wolves need federal protection to explore habitat in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast.”
“This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy.” At present, only Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming allow the public to hunt wolves.