Friday

Officials on Thursday stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states and tribes in charge of overseeing the predators.

It's the latest in a series of administration actions on the environment that appeal to key blocs of rural voters in the race’s final days, including steps to allow more mining in Minnesota and logging in Alaska.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz, who opposes recreational wolf hunting, called the decision disappointing and wildlife advocacy groups pledged to fight it in court.

Both feared and revered by people, gray wolves have recovered from near extinction in parts of the country but remain absent from much of their historical range.

Federal wildlife officials contend thriving populations in the western Great Lakes region, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest ensure the species' long-term survival. They argue it’s not necessary for wolves to be in every place they once inhabited to be considered recovered.

In an announcement attended by several dozen people at a national wildlife refuge overlooking the Minnesota River in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt declared the gray wolf's recovery “a milestone of success."

“In the early part of the 20th century the gray wolf had essentially become a ghost throughout the United States," Bernhardt said. “That is not the case today."

Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Dan Ashe agreed that wolves were recovered and said it's time for the agency to “move on" to help other imperiled wildlife. But he questioned the announcement coming so close to the election.

“It creates the perception that it's being done for political reasons," Ashe said in an interview.

Some biologists and former government officials who previously reviewed the administration’s proposal for lifting protections said it lacked scientific justification. And wildlife advocates worry the move will make it harder, if not impossible, for wolves to recover in more regions, such as the southern Rocky Mountains and portions of the Northeast.

Their numbers also are sure to drop in the western Great Lakes area, as happened previously when federal controls were lifted, said Adrian Treves, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin. Hunting seasons took their toll and research showed that poachers were emboldened by the absence of federal enforcement, he said.

Agency scientists believe wolves can continue expanding even without the federal listing, although support from states is considered crucial.

Farmers and hunters welcomed the news.

Ashleigh Calaway of Pittsville, Wisconsin said 13 of her family farm's sheep were killed by wolves in July of 2019. Reducing wolf numbers through state-sponsored hunts would help prevent such attacks, she said.
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Responses to "U.S. Government to end gray wolf protections across most of U.S."

  1. Doggerel says:

    We need to stop this.

  2. Unknown says:

    this needs to be stopped before it gets started ,the wolf populations have just recently started growing they should not be killed willy nilly just cause some fool with a gun thinks it's okay to take the wolf's lives killing mamma wolf and her cubs are being killed in their dens this is horrile please do something to stop this it is beyond wrong

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