Protections for Gray Wolves
After repeated calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to hold public hearings on the decision to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in all lower 48 states, wildlife advocates are taking the matter into their own hands by hosting community forums in cities across the Western US - like Sacramento, Portland – and Denver.
Deanna Noel, national outreach director with the group Defenders of Wildlife, says while wolf recovery efforts are hailed as one the Endangered Species Act's biggest success stories, delisting would put those gains at risk.
"This is a move that Defenders of Wildlife finds premature, and one that we feel could really expose gray wolves to unrestricted hunting and killing, which could really send them closer to extinction," she states.
Proponents of delisting argue that current wolf numbers are healthy in areas targeted for recovery, so they favor removing ESA protections.
Noel adds bringing the animal back to play out its natural role as keystone, apex predators would benefit entire landscapes.
"They play an invaluable role in maintaining the health and balance of ecosystems, and keep species like elk in check," she states. "Wolves also prevent environmental hazards like overgrazing and erosion, and improve water quality."
Public comments can be submitted online at FederalRegister.gov through May 14.