Under the mistaken belief that wolves have recovered and can be turned over to state management, some in Congress are vocally supporting legislation to remove protections for wolves under the Endangered Species Act.
Several bills have already been introduced that would strip protections for the gray wolf in parts or all of their range -- opening these top predators up to being shot, gassed and killed. Passage of any of these bills would have a devastating effect on the future of wolves in America, and, more importantly, on the federal Endangered Species Act itself.
Legislatively removing protections for wolves would set a terrible precedent whereby species -- many less popular or charismatic than wolves -- could be removed from the life-saving protections of the endangered species list one at a time. To date, Congress has stayed away from such political intrusions into endangered-species management, and we need to make sure it doesn't start now.
Although restoration of gray wolves to the northern Rocky Mountains and portions of the Great Lakes region has been a tremendous success, wolves still require the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
Without these protections, Wyoming would allow wolves to be shot on sight in more than 90 percent of the state and most other states fortunate to have wolves would drastically reduce population numbers. Wolves occupy a mere 5 percent of their historic range, have only just begun to get a foothold in Oregon and Washington, and are absent from many other states and regions where quality wolf habitat remains.
Wolves have been an integral part of the North American landscape for eons and deserve a chance to roam more of our wildlands. The reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park shows that wolves are a keystone species that benefit many other species, including songbirds, beavers and pronghorn antelope. Millions of people visit Yellowstone every year, in part to see wolves in the wild.
Further, legislation removing protections for wolves threatens to undermine the Endangered Species Act itself by, for the first time, taking the decision on whether a species warrants protection out of the hands of scientific experts and placing it squarely in the political realm. This would set a terrible precedent and open the floodgates for legislation removing species' protections in the path of well-connected special interests.
I sincerely urge you to take whatever action is necessary to oppose all anti-wolf legislation.