Federal officials plan to take gray wolves off the endangered species list in 48 states, according to a draft document viewed by the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. The sweeping rule would eliminate federal government protections that have allowed wolves to flourish for the past 18 years. Instead, their fates would now be up to individual states.
People living in the Intermountain West have lobbied to remove protections from the wolves for years. The problem? Wolves eat their livestock. Yet delisting an animal from the endangered species list is very uncommon, according to the LA Times. Only two dozen species have ever been removed from the list.
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And the wolf population has already been driven down in some states in recent years thanks to regulated hunting and trapping, the AP reported. Wolf numbers in fact dropped 7 percent last year in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
"There's a race to the bottom to see who can be more anti-wolf," Don Barry, a former Interior Department assistant secretary under President Bill Clinton and now a vice president at Defenders of Wildlife, told the AP. "They're basically giving up on wolf recovery before the job is done."