FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 27, 2008
Contact: Kristina Johnson 415-977-5619
Melanie Stein 307-733-4557
Loss of Endangered Species Protection Leaves Wolves at Risk
Unbalanced State Plans Threaten to Undo Years of Recovery Work
Tomorrow, the Northern Rockies Gray Wolf will be officially removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act. The premature delisting leaves wolves at the mercy of aggressive, non-scientific state management plans.
“Right now, the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming lack balanced wolf management plans,” said Sierra Club representative Melanie Stein. “The state plans are based on politics rather than the best available science. They treat wolves as pests, rather than as a valuable wildlife resource.”
Though wolves once roamed freely through most of North America, by the 1930s, they had virtually disappeared from the Rocky Mountain landscape. Wolves were reintroduced into the region in 1995. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, they’ve begun to rebound, but scientists say wolves have not yet made a full recovery.
“Everyone wants to see wolves delisted and managed locally. But until these states come up with sound management plans, wolves need federal protection,” Stein said. “Without balanced plans, we risk ending up right where we started, with wolves back on the endangered species list and under federal control.”
In January 2008, Governor Butch Otter of Idaho proposed slashing Idaho’s wolves from 800 to 100 animals. Wyoming’s plan treats wolves as pests throughout much of the state, allowing anyone to shoot, trap, or poison a wolf anytime. Wyoming officials plan to dramatically reduce wolf numbers—despite the fact that seven of ten residents who commented on the state’s plan said wolf populations should be left to grow naturally.
“Wolves should be treated as a valuable wildlife resource, not a pest," Stein said. "Wolves attract tourists and boost the economy. Living with wolves and other wildlife is a fundamental part of life in the West. In fact, the sense of the wild is what keeps many people here.”