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Trump Administration Proposes Open Season on Gray Wolves
Thanks to the ESA, wolves have begun to recover in the continental United States after human persecution brought them to the brink of extinction. But wolves are still functionally extinct in the vast majority of places where they used to live. In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, where wolves have already lost federal protections, trophy hunters, trappers, and others have killed more than 3,200 wolves since 2011. Federal protections are still needed to help wolves return to suitable but unoccupied parts of their range, just as the federal government maintained protections for the bald eagle until it had expanded its range.
Historically, gray wolves existed throughout most of the continental United States but they were trapped, shot, and poisoned to the brink of extinction because they were viewed as a threat to livestock. Because of the Endangered Species Act, gray wolves have started to recover across the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Upper Midwest. However, they still only occupy only five percent of their historic range and 36 percent of their suitable habitat.
“Now is not the time for the federal government to give in to powerful hunting and livestock interests and give up on wolf recovery,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “Wolves should remain listed until they are fully recovered and can take their place as key parts of a healthy ecosystem.”
The ESA is America’s most effective law for protecting wildlife in danger of extinction. It serves as an essential safety net when state management has failed to protect imperiled plants, fish, and wildlife. Since the law’s enactment, 99 percent of listed species have avoided extinction, and hundreds more have been set on a path to recovery. The law is especially important as a defense against the current extinction crisis; species are disappearing at a rate much higher than the natural rate of extinction due to human activities, resulting in what some scientists term a “biological annihilation.” Global animal abundance has declined by 58 percent since 1970. Researchers estimate that, if not for ESA protections, 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006. The ESA is a wildly successful and popular law, which has nonetheless been under constant attack by the Trump administration. Guardians strongly opposes all attempts to weaken this landmark conservation law and rob future generations of their natural heritage.