Protection of Gray Wolves

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Julia Baggett, Staff Writer

Protections have been restored for gray wolves across America as they are put back once again onto the endangered species list.

Gray wolves were removed from the endangered species list in 2020 after keeping their endangered status for 46 years. Along with this, many protections from hunters and other man-made dangers were also lifted. Farmers, convinced that the wolves were killing off their livestock, and hunters, who argued they were harming the local elk population, resumed their hunting activities, once again threatening the species. However, February 10th the wolves were added back onto the endangered species list protecting them from hunters once again. 

Many environmental protection groups were more than approving of this decision after another set of bills passed in Montana had permitted hunters to use “cruel” and “brutal” methods to kill  wolves more easily, and without limit, resulting in over 200 wolves being  killed in the span of 3 days. 

The decision was made by Jeffery S. White, a senior judge in Northern California. He claimed that the 2020 decision to remove the species from the endangered list was made without taking account for populations outside of the Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes, and realized that outside these areas populations were threatened. 

However, threats aren’t completely eliminated – in fact, far from it. Only 44 states have passed the bill, Montana not being one of them. Idaho, another one of the states not included, continues to distribute bounties to hunters in reward for a dead wolf, a practice which has driven them to near-extinction in the past. States not included tend to be the states that encourage the practice of killing wolves, and pose the highest threat.

Despite this, the decision brings new hope to U.S wolf populations, which have been threatened for hundreds of years due to fear and misconceptions about them. Lethality is no longer a viable option for their removal, and extremely deadly hunting methods such as aerial attacks and trained hunting dogs have been outlawed where the bill has passed. 

Instead of shooting wolves that have been killing livestock, farmers are strongly recommended to call USDA Wildlife staff to handle the situation in a non-fatal manner. It’s hoped these precautions may aid in gray wolf conservation, and hopefully help them rightfully get taken off the endangered species list in the future.