HOWL Colorado

HOWLColorado response to the proposed wolf delisting

The Obama administration has put forth a proposal which would delist wolves in the lower 48 states – a move driven by politics and not science and certainly too soon.

There is a misconception that the day wolves have their federal protections removed is a day wolf advocates never want to see.

Certainly some advocacy groups are financially benefitted by wolves remaining permanently on the endangered species list, but most wolf advocates would see wolf delisting as the final step of a completely successful wolf reintroduction.

The problem is that 6,000 wolves spread across a handful of states is not a complete reintroduction. A healthy wolf population is one that can sustain itself and safely disperse to new locations to ensure the genetic diversity of future populations.

The biggest flaw of the current proposal is that Colorado and, less surprisingly, Utah are states where natural expansion for wolves would occur and they would have to do so without federal protections.

The correct move would of course be to maintain federal protections in states without wolves and maintain reasonable federal oversight of state-based wolf management plans.

States are clearly quite diverse in how they are dealing with the wolves under their stewardship.

Whereas Wyoming has no semblance of science-based management in their plan, Oregon has taken the position of being the paragon of excellence when it comes to striking a balance between the needs of its citizens and the needs of the wolves.

If we were to make assumptions about how most states would manage wolves, you could probably look at Montana or Wisconsin to be the typical model. Such plans leave special interests and ranchers a little happier than wolf advocates. However, we do see science insert itself – such as when Montana tried to set up a buffer zone around Yellowstone – even if politicians and courts quickly insert themselves to squash the influence of state biologists.

Were we surprised to see the Obama administration make such a move, especially with the recent appointment of Sally Jewell as the Secretary of the Interior?

Not really, but Jewell’s appointment was some reason for modest optimism.

The legacy of Ken Salazar is certainly being felt here. The backroom deals, pressure from the various states and Salazar’s own rancher background made the Obama administration surprisingly hostile towards wolves.

The appointment of Sally Jewell appeared to be promising news for the national parks. Jewell herself seems positive towards large predators based on the boards she has chosen to serve – however, our optimism was cautious at best, and seemingly with good reason.

We strongly encourage all wolf advocates to read through the actual proposal and then offer a comment.

We love that you value our thoughts, or the opinions of others, but nothing beats having the knowledge at your own fingertips and drawing your own conclusions.

If you don’t submit a comment, then when wolves are delisted, you will know that you didn’t do everything you could to stop it.

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