The Endangered Species Act: a law that works

Reflecting a bit on today’s news that the federal government intends, at least for now, to give up on its push to strip northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, it’s important not to loose sight of how much credit the Act deserves for the entire arc of the wolves’ story.

From their reintroduction to the greater Yellowstone region in the 1990’s, to their rebounding populations in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming (and the remarkable effects that wolf reintroduction has had on the region’s ecosystem), to the defeat of the federal government’s ill-advised delisting plan, the Endangered Species Act was the key.  The Endangered Species Act provided initial umbrella of protection wolves in the lower forty-eight needed; it provided the flexibility to allow an “experimental” population of wolves to be reintroduced to the region; and its insistence that removal of wolves from the federal list of endangered species could only be based on “best available” science and the presence of adequate state regulation prevented a premature delisting.