Despite the news yesterday that the wolf population in Yellowstone has decreased 27%, the Bush administration said today that they will remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in the Midwest and in the area surrounding Yellowstone National Park.
The Bush administration has tried to remove the wolves’ federal protections twice before, once in the Great Lakes and once in the northern Rockies, which includes Montana, Colorado and Wyoming. Federal judges revoked both rule changes in February and September of last year.
Defenders of Wildlife sent an emergency news blast this afternoon that said they are already prepared to file new lawsuits to ensure the wolves’ are protected. The organization estimates that more than 1,000 wolves could be killed this year as a result.
Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett said “We believe this is a major success story for conservation, [and] we can all be proud of our various roles in saving this icon of the American wilderness.” However, the move comes after intense pressure from anti-wolf lobbies funded by farmers and ranchers who claim the wolves are pests, or “predators,” a designation which allows even protected species to be killed in defense of livestock.
While it is unlikely that this move will hold up in court, only months after successful lawsuits against similar decisions, it will be effective as a last-minute gift to the political establishment in these states, where the wolf protections are a contentious, hot-button issue.Photo credit: haglundc on Flickr under a Creative Commons license