In some extremely disappointing news, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced last Friday his intention to "affirm" the Bush administration's decision to remove Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and Upper Midwest. As we've written about extensively at Switchboard, the Bush administration's delisting decision was grounded neither in science nor in law. Friday's decision will strips wolves of protection not only in Montana and Idaho, but also in eastern Washington and Oregon and northern Utah as well. As a consequence, wolf populations in some of these states could be subject to wide-spread killing. Idaho had already asked the federal government for permission (s they won't need if the delisting goes through) to kill over 100 wolves in and around the Lolo National Forest.
The truly sad thing about Friday's decision is how close we are to true wolf recovery in the region. Wolves have already started to recolonize parts of Washington, but they are far from recovered there. A lone female wolf just showed up in Colorado, completing an extraordinary 1,000 mile trek from Yellowstone in search of a mate. While she will remain protected (albeit mateless) so long as she stays in Colorado, the prospect of other wolves making a similar journey just got a lot dimmer. This highlights one of the major problems of the wolf-delisting plan--from a geographic point of view it paints with far too broad a brush.
NRDC will be sure to challenge the decision at the earliest possible opportunity.