By Winston Thomas
Special to the Mercury News
Until recently the restoration of the gray wolf to a portion of its natural habitat in the lower 48 was one of the success stories of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. However, the job is far from complete, and now the U.S. Department of the Interior wants to allow the states to return to many of the same methods of the late 1800s and early 1900s that led to the eradication of the wolf in California and elsewhere.On June 7, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its plan to remove the gray wolf, Canis lupus, from the federal list of endangered wildlife in the remainder of the lower 48 states where it is not already delisted (except for the Mexican wolf in New Mexico and Arizona). The gray wolf will
Many livestock producers have not begun to explore the nonlethal methods proven to reduce conflict between wolves and livestock. Even though livestock losses to wolves accounted for less than .01 percent of the total livestock in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in 2012, many sheep and cattle ranchers want to see the wolf eradicated.
If the gray wolf is delisted, then management of wolf populations reverts to each state. Wolves were delisted in 2011 in Idaho and Montana, and 2012 in Wyoming. Management in these states is a cruel euphemism for indiscriminate, aggressive hunting, trapping and snaring of wolves. Since delisting in Idaho, nearly 700 wolves have been killed by recreational hunting. In some areas of Idaho, wolves, including lactating females and pups, can be killed at any time. In 83 percent of Wyoming, wolves can be killed year round, in any number of ways, without a license. And Montana's proposed management plan will allow up to five wolves to be killed per hunter/trapper. This is not scientific stewardship.
The now famous lone wolf OR-7 traveled from Oregon into California in December 2011 but wandered back into Oregon in March of this year. It defies logic to declare the gray wolf population recovered in California. The same is true in other states with excellent wolf habitat and abundant elk and deer such as Utah and Colorado. Like California, these states have no established wolf populations, yet there would be no federal protection for a wolf should it wander in. This action will end recovery in these states before it starts. Why delist the gray wolf in states where it does not yet exist, unless the goal is to keep the population at zero?
The bald eagle was delisted in 2007, but we have not allowed open hunting and trapping. Why should we do that with wolves? The stated goal of the Endangered Species Act is to save species from extinction and to fully recover the species by removing threats to its survival.
The 90-day public comment period for the proposed gray wolf delisting ends Sept. 11. Newly confirmed Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell needs to hear from the public that wolf recovery has not even begun in California and other states. Wolves need our voices. Please howl your support for federal protection of the gray wolf until recovery is complete, and stop the wolf hunt.