As U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers removing the gray wolf from the federal list of protected species under the Endangered Species Act, a study by California’s Department of Fish and Wildlife finds that the gray wolf does not need protections in the state, according to a Capital Press report:
A preliminary study by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife finds there isn't a need for such a listing, partly because no wolf populations are established here, said Eric Loft, chief of the agency's wildlife branch.
“We tentatively indicated to the peer reviewers … that we don't think it's warranted,” Loft said. “But it remains to be seen whether or not that's going to be the final conclusion depending on the peer review comments.”
Originally listed over 30 years ago, officials consider the gray wolf a recovery success story. The species has already been delisted in western Great Lakes states and Northern Rockies.
KQED’s News Fix blog writes “there are now 5,360 gray wolves in the lower 48, with a current estimate of 1,674 in the northern Rocky Mountains and 3,686 in the western Great Lakes.”
But environmental groups say those numbers aren’t enough. News Fix spoke to Amaroq Weiss from Center for Biological Diversity:
“We need to restore the gray wolf to the numbers where it’s fulfilling its ecological role,” Weiss adds. She points out what happened at Yellowstone National Park, when the gray wolf population was decimated in the 1920s. This resulted in elk — wolves’ prey — proliferating and overgrazing on the area flora and fauna, which had a detrimental effect on the larger animal and plant environment. (The gray wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995.)
As gray wolves are federally delisted, management happens at the state level. This is already true in Idaho. State wolf management plans are in effect in Washington and Oregon, along with current federal protections.
The public can weigh in on the feds’ proposal to delist gray wolves through December 17.
-- Toni Tabora-Roberts