Hunters have killed 299 gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain states where trophy hunting is set to continue through the winter, and in some cases through the spring. Conservationists say the packs could nosedive in the face of robust trophy hunting and trapping that has been set up to whittle the wolves down to around 400 in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming combined.
U.S. wolves got a reprieve this week, though only a tiny one, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended the comment period on its proposal to remove protections for nearly all US wolves. Meanwhile, the gunfire thundered across the Northern Rocky Mountains where hunters are killing wolves no longer listed as endangered.
Yellowstone National Park wolves are under fire in Wyoming, where five wolves were shot over the last week as trophy hunting begins in the state. Advocates are upset about the possible loss of park wolves, a major attraction for tourists who view the animals with binoculars and frustrated by secrecy around the killings.
The Rocky Mountain gray wolves are back on the Endangered Species List after a federal judge ruled last week that the government did not follow the law in removing the wolves from federal protections last year. The new ruling means that the wolf hunts in Montana and Idaho that claimed 260 wolves during the 2009-2010 hunting season will not resume this fall.
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Amid the fanfare of the inauguration, President Obama went to work on Tuesday, and among his first acts was to freeze pending last-minute regulation changes by his predecessor.
The move gave the endangered Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves yet another reprieve in the arduous, years-long battle over whether or not they should continue to receive federal protection.
In recent months, the Bush Administration has pushed through a succession of new rules and regulations, many aimed at environmental projects, trying to beat the clock on its expiring reign. (It’s not an unusual game. Bill Clinton also made many last minute changes – that were later stopped by Bush.)
Gray wolves, all but de-listed from the Endangered Species Act protections through a series of government steps this year, have won a reprieve. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official, the government will be withdrawing its declaration that the animals are fully recovered.
The move, reported by the Associated Press and various conservation groups, follows a federal court decision this summer that sided with environmentalists arguing that the wolves need continued protections.