The "basically impossible, theoretical, worst-case scenario" for wolves takes effect today
Last month, as the Department of the Interior finalized the on-again delisting of wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains, I was out of the office experiencing the delirium of sleep deprivation that comes with the birth of a new child. So when I returned to work last week I sifted through hundreds of half-read and unread emails that accumulated in my absence including a slew of press clips on the wolves.
The piece that struck me the most was one in which the US Fish and Wildlife Service accuses NRDC of lying about the possible consequences of delisting wolves in the region. To be fair, the Service's wolf recovery coordinator, Ed Bangs, didn't actually use the word "lying" to describe our claims - I believe his words were "flat out spinning a bunch of horse pucky," but you get the point.
You see, there are currently somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,600 wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The US Fish and Wildlife Service will tell you that upon delisting the states have committed to maintaining around a thousand of those wolves (a number, by the way, that we believe is inadequate to ensure longterm survival). We, on the other hand, would tell you that rather than being protected by the state plans those same thousand wolves are actually in danger of being exterminated. Now read on.
When Louisa Willcox defended NRDC's statements to the Missoula Independent by explaining that the only legally binding number of wolves the states are committed to maintaining is a few hundred (not over one thousand), Ed didn't disagree.
"That's true, Bangs acknowledges, but only under a 'theoretical, worst-case scenario' that's 'basically impossible.'"
What is impossible about the states exercising their legal right to reduce their wolf populations to the minimum number allowable? The Service may not think they will, but let's just say for a minute that they do, what recourse would there be? That's right - none.
That is why we will be challenging the delisting that takes effect today - as we did the last one. Because until there is a legally binding agreement that would prevent the states from drastically reducing their wolf populations, there is no way to ensure they won't do just that. And that's no horse pucky - that's just the truth.