Wolves prowl off list

It’s been clear for the better part of a decade that gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains were doing just fine, and no longer needed the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act. The same is true with wolves in the Northern Great Lakes area.

But lawsuits and legal challenges from environmental groups have kept the wolves on the list and under federal protection, even though the population has grown in the Northern Rockies to the point that several states are adopting wolf hunting seasons.

This week, the Obama administration acknowledged the success of the wolf reintroduction program that began nearly 20 years ago in and around Yellowstone National Park. The Northern Rockies wolves were removed from the endangered species list Thursday. That occurred after a rider on a federal budget bill forced the administration’s hand. Wolves in the Lake Superior region could be removed by the end of the year.

All this is good news, not because anyone wants to see wolves disappear from the Lower 48 states, as they nearly did in the last century, but because the wolf populations in these areas are now thriving. They can continue to do so without federal protection, but with oversight by state wildlife agencies.


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