This week the NRDC Action Fund unveiled a new ad aimed at stopping the Bush Administration's plan to strip protections from the Northern Rockies population of grey wolves and, ultimately, to turn wolf management over to the states.
Since the reintroduction of a handful of wolves into the Greater Yellowstone region in 1995, the grey wolf has thrived in the area's vast open spaces. Today, more than 1,300 wolves roam in packs throughout portions of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. And, as they have spread, wolves have brought with them astounding ecological changes. The presence of wolves has altered the behavior of foraging elk and lead to a rejuvenation of many of the woodland groves along banks of streams and rivers. And a reduction in coyote populations (wolves aren't very tolerant of their small cousins) has lead to an increase in the rodent population that, in turn, has helped eagles, hawks, and other birds. Even the region's grizzly bears, who scavenge wolf kills, have benefited.
All of this is threatened by the Bush Administration's plan, which would allow for a radical expansion in wolf killing despite the fact that wolves are still protected by the Endangered Species Act. If the Administration gets its way, nearly half of the regions wolves (600 or so) could be shot, mostly in the name of maintaining larger elk herds. This is nonsense, of course. The fact is that the elk population in the Northern Rockies is at an all-time high and in the few places where elk numbers have fallen, it has more to do with drought, habitat loss, and other factors than it does with wolves.
But the Bush Administration rarely lets facts get in its way when it comes to wildlife management. So check out the Action Fund's ad and see how you can help.