President Donald Trump just ended federal protections for the gray wolf — because the species doesn’t need them anymore.
The Trump administration is set to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list following an explosive growth in the species’ once-threatened population.
The move was first announced by acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who spoke at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver, CO. A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson later confirmed the proposal.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon propose a rule to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states and return management of the species to the states and tribes,” a spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement to The Hill. This means states and tribes will be able to set their own rules with regard to the hunting of gray wolves.
“Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is one of our nation’s great conservation successes, with the wolf joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA,” the Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson added.
There were as few as 1,000 gray wolves in the contiguous United States in 1975, when the species was first granted federal protection. Since that time, the population of gray wolves has grown exponentially to more than 5,000.
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As with everything the Trump administration does, the move to delist the gray wolf immediately drew sharp criticism from some on the left, including environmentalist advocacy groups in Congress, like the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, and the private sector, like the Sierra Club.
Those groups have expressed concern that the withdrawal of federal protection is being done too soon, and suggested that the population of gray wolves hasn’t recovered as much as they’d like to see yet. But while environmentalists fret over continuing to protect the rapidly growing wolf population, farmers and ranchers have cheered the move, for both economic and safety reasons.
“This is welcome news to farmers and ranchers. The agency’s intent to delist the gray wolf is a triumph of common sense we all should herald as a conservation success story,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in a statement of support for the move. “There are more than 5,000 gray wolves in the United States and more than 10 times as many over the Canadian border.”
“The U.S. population of gray wolves far surpasses the recovery targets called for by the Endangered Species Act,” Duvall continued. “Populations have reached critically high numbers in many states — so high, in fact, that wolves are not just preying on livestock, but pushing elk and deer onto U.S. farms and ranches, which leads to even more destruction.”
Duvall went on to note that both the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations had looked into delisting the gray wolf, but backed down when faced with opposition from environmentalist groups.
However, as we have seen on so many other fronts over the past two years, opposition to common sense reforms won’t stop the Trump administration from doing what’s right.