Wolves Endangered No More?

Eighteen years after gray wolves were re-introduced to the western U.S., federal officials have quietly moved to delist them from the Endangered Species Act, according to a draft rule change obtained by the L.A. Times.

A small population of Mexican Gray Wolves in New Mexico and Arizona would still be protected, but status of the Rocky Mountain population would be left to the states if the Fish and Wildlife Service chooses to enter the rule into the Federal Register.

While western-state ranchers and hunters have been pushing for the rule change for years, some scientists and conservationists allege that the move is based on politics, not science.

"This is politics versus professional wildlife management," former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, Jamie Rappaport Clark, told the Times.

In 1995, Canadian wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, and have since grown in number to over 1,600 animals ranging over five states. (Six if you count California's lone part-time resident.) The Great Lakes population is significantly larger and was delisted last year.

The populations in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana were delisted in recent years as well, so the new rule would remove protections in Oregon and Washington, with fewer than 100 wolves between them.

Via The Los Angeles Times.