HOWL Colorado

Wyoming’s wolf plan a threat to the species’ population

There’s a lot more to restoring an endangered species than simply getting enough animals to breed in the wild. They return to a changed area, narrower and more hostile, where humans occupy more space. Sometimes this works out fine; the bald eagle has been a stunning success story.

The return of the gray wolf to the northern Rockies looked as though it would be similarly inspiring, with the wolf’s numbers rising from an original 66 to about 1,700. It still could be, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been too willing to see the multimillion-dollar wolf program set back by agreements with states that allow widespread hunting. Now it’s about to happen again, this time in Wyoming.

Once an animal is removed from the endangered list, its future depends on state agreements to manage and maintain the species. None of the plans for gray wolves has been ideal. Since they were originally delisted in Montana and Idaho, hundreds of them have been shot and killed. But Wyoming’s plan is the worst — so bad in its original incarnation that the government would not allow the animal to be delisted there…

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