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Agency cries wolf

Posted by Erin Moore at Apr 07, 2008 02:22 PM |

It was a sad day in late March when the federal government removed gray wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) from the endangered species list in the Northern Rockies. Sad because they were delisted for the wrong reasons. Having wolves in the West mean more possibilities for wolves who might wander into Washington...

Agency cries wolf

To agency officials who just dropped Northern Rockies wolves from ESA protections, we say, "Scat!"

It was a sad day in late March when the federal government removed gray wolves (Canis lupus occidentalis) from the endangered species list in the Northern Rockies. Sad because they were delisted for the wrong reasons. We'd love to see the wolf declared truly recovered and removed from the list, but only when wolf wildlife biologists agree that populations have met recovery goals, and they haven't done so yet!

Removing federal protections for wolves affects those of us living in Washington State, because it is mostly wolves traveling from the Northern Rockies who are expected to repopulate Washington. In fact, wolves have already been turning up in northeast Washington. The government's decision is doubly troubling, too, because of what gray wolves have given back to Yellowstone and promise to give to us here–a fuller ecosystem, from willow to aspen to beaver, with the wolf as predator in it.

Oregon and Washington still elect to protect wolves at the state endangered species level. But Wyoming and Idaho have plans to reduce (kill off) their wolf populations by, respectively, 300 and 700 wolves (50 percent and 80 percent). Already since delisting, four wolves have been reported killed in Wyoming, and two dead in Idaho.

Washington is currently developing–with the help of citizens and stakeholders–a statewide wolf conservation and management plan, a process which Oregon completed a few years ago. Conservation Northwest's Derrick Knowles sits on the wolf working group for the state. They've a goal of recommending a plan to the state by sometime this spring. The plan will then go through a scientific peer review and public comment period this year before final approval by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Fish and Wildlife Commission. What else is to be done? Some, including Defenders of Wildlife, are pushing for a national wolf recovery plan. Add your voice!

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