The Looming Delisting of the Gray Wolf

Yellowstone Wolf #778 “Big Brown” by Brynn Schmidt

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

We have spent the last 20 years supporting organizations who have fought to protect wolves across the United States and especially in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. We travel year after year to Yellowstone, especially in winter to view them through a scope, and when extremely lucky, see them up close such as in the photo above. We have watched wolves from over 8 packs throughout the years and cannot image the park without them now. During this time, we have also seen the wolf make a comeback in areas such as Minnesota, Michigan and the Pacific Northwest. It has taken decades to bring the wolf back from the brink of extinction in our country, and now the current administration is planning to delist them from the Endangered Species Act at a time when they are still so vulnerable.

“Jamie Rappaport Clark, a former director of the Fish and Wildlife Service now with the Defenders of Wildlife, told the AP that protections were needed to prevent “an all-out war on wolves” in states that would allow them to be hunted. “We don’t have any confidence that wolves will be managed like other wildlife,” she said.” – NPR, Trump Administration Seeks to Take Gray Wolf Off Endangered Species List, March 6, 2019

While wolves have made a comeback in some areas, they should not be delisted for a couple of reasons. The first is that they still haven’t reestablished packs in many of the ranges were they once roamed. The second, and more immediate reason is due to unbridled hatred that still exists against them across our country, especially among some ranchers and hunters. If you take a look at Idaho, Wyoming and Montana for example, once wolves were delisted in this area, hunting started immediately. Outside of the national park areas, Wyoming has even deemed them varmints that can be killed on site. (read Sierra Club article here) Without protection, we will see wolves once again vanish from the landscapes except for those who remain within national park boundaries. (Currently during hunting seasons, if a wolf crosses an invisible boundary line from Yellowstone, they can be killed. There is no buffer of protection.)

There is so much that goes into this debate and it would take too long to discuss all the different aspects of this debate. I thought I would list some great articles and organizations here where you can learn more or take action instead. My hope in posting this is that those of you who haven’t been advocates of the wolf in the past could step up and get involved as the Trump Administration attempts to delist them across the country. They are already hunted and killed in large numbers across Wyoming, Idaho and Montana and we will see this increase more in these states and others if they are delisted. Please stand with me to fight this proposed delisting.

Check out these resources to get involved or learn more: