Wolves may be left with nowhere to run
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2003–
WASHINGTON D.C.–The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on March
18 began the process of downlisting grey wolves in the Lower 48
mainland states from “endangered” to “threatened” status, except for
Mexican grey wolves in Arizona and New Mexico and the reintroduced
population in and around Yellowstone National Park.
USFWS said there are now about 664 wolves in the Yellowstone
ecosystem, 2,445 wolves in Minnesota, where they were downlisted in
1978, and 600 in Wisconsin and Michigan.
The status reduction will enable ranchers to kill wolves they
catch in the act of attacking livestock–and may end the hopes of
wolf enthusiasts that reintroduction might be attempted in Maine,
New Hampshire, Vermont, or upstate New York. The northeastern
habitat sector will instead be considered an extension of the Great
Downlisting the Yellowstone ecosystem wolves could also occur
soon, if Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming adopt management plans
satisfying USFWS conservation requirements.
Wyoming Governor Dave Freuden-thal on March 4 signed into law
a management plan which may not win USFWS approval, since it
classifies wolves as “predators” subject to being shot on sight
except within Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, if there
are more than 15 active packs in the state. Freudenthal also signed
a bill asserting state control over wildlife.
Wolves from the Yellowstone region have occasionally entered
Utah and Oregon. The Utah senate on March 3 killed a bill to create
a compensation fund for ranchers who lose stock to wolves, on the
theory that it might indicate that wolves are welcome. Oregon state
senator Roger Beyer (R-Molalla) on March 4 introduced a bill to take
wolves off the state endangered species list. Keeping state
endangered status would give wolves more protection in Oregon than
they will have in the rest of the U.S. after downlisting.
In Alaska, where wolves have never been federally protected,
Governor Frank Murkowski is expected to approve a wolf-culling plan
unanimously recommended on March 12 by the Alaska Board of Game.
Elected in November 2002, in part on a promise to reinstitute
wolf-culling after an eight-year suspension, to make elk and caribou
more abundant for human hunters, Murkowski recently appointed six of
the seven current Board of Game members.
State senator Ralph Seekins (R-Fairbanks) on March 20
introduced a bill to liberalize the rules pertaining to wolf-culling,
including to allow pre-emptive culling, before a prey population
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on March 21 announced
that it will fly wolf-spotting missions over the McGrath game
management area, where culling is to begin, to help hunters and
trappers find wolves to kill.
The British Columbia government is reportedly soon to declare
an open season on wolves in the northern part of the province, also
to boost the numbers of hooved animals available to human hunters.