The gray wolves of the midwest are under attack for the third time in seven years by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The agency wishes to strip the wolves of their protected status under the Endangered Species Act. They've failed in the past, but following the legislation that has removed protections from gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains, they're trying again.
Great Lake gray wolves were hunted nearly to extinction just a few decades ago. Since then, they've been doing well but aren't out of the woods yet. They still face threats from disease and illegal hunting. Scientists have also concluded that there isn't just one species living in the area, but two, and they've been interbreeding. Biologists say it is imperative for protections to remain intact for the recovery of both species -- and the new hybrid species -- to be successful.
Wisconsin plans to bring numbers down to 350, which is about half of the current population. Minnesota plans to pay officials a bounty for every wolf they kill.
The U.S. Fish and WIldlife Service is asking for public opinion on the matter. Sign the petition to tell the Fish and Wildlife Service: Wolves need protection until recovery is truly achieved and threats are diminished.
Photo credit: Drew Avery
There are many issues that must be addressed before the wolf is taken off of the Endangered Species List. As you know, the wolves of this region have battled for decades to strengthen their numbers. They were once threatened with extinction and today, threats to their population still exist. Packs are susceptible to diseases such as parvovirus and mange. They are also threatened with illegal hunting.
Furthermore, biologists have concluded that there are actually two different species coexisting in the region: the gray wolf and the eastern wolf. It is also believed that they are interbreeding and thusly, creating a hybrid species. Removing the wolves from protected status could severely endanger one of the species.
Wolves currently inhabit only 5% of their former range. With the threat of disease and hunting along with the discovery of a new species, now is not the time to lift protections.
I urge you to use your power to aid in the national recovery program for wolves and explore nonlethal alternatives to deal with nuisance animals. Humans and wolves can live together without problems.
Please preserve protections for wolves of the Great Lakes region.