Saturday, January 27, 2007

Don't Strip ESA Protections From Wolves in WY and ID

We must maintain strong federal protections for wolves in Idaho and Wyoming. Sign the Petition Now!

Like many wildlife supporters, I want to see a future where Western wolves can be removed from the list of endangered species. However, removing federal protections for wolves is extremely premature. Neither Idaho nor Wyoming's state wolf management plans have adequately addressed the issues that once brought these animals to the brink of extinction.

Wyoming's proposed plan exposes wolves to unregulated killing outside National Park and wilderness area boundaries. Such policies nearly led to the extinction of wolves in the last century, and a return to "shoot-on-sight" policies throughout much of the state would jeopardize continued wolf recovery in Wyoming and the rest of the Northern Rockies.

Idaho's management plan is also troubling. That state's "management" plan would allow the killing of as many as 54 of the state's 65 packs. The plan lacks solid conservation objectives, focusing on controlling wolves at minimal levels and jeopardizing the strong recovery wolves have made under federal protection.

Wolves play a crucial role in maintaining balanced ecosystems, helping to ensure that increasing elk and other game populations do not overwhelm available habitat in Wyoming.

Wolves also play an increasingly important role in the region's economy. According to a recent study, the roughly 151,000 people who visit Yellowstone National Park each year to see wolves bring in $35 million to Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. And nearly four percent of Yellowstone National Park's 2.8 million annual visitors say they would not have visited the nation's oldest national park if wolves weren't there.

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