U.S. federal officials have announced the gray wolves roaming in Wyoming will lose their endangered species status at the end of September. At this time, it will open the wolves to unregulated killing throughout most of the state.
The delisting of federally protected endangered status takes place on Sept. 30, reported the Chicago Tribune , allowing the state of Wyoming to retake control of its gray wolf population.
Over time the gray wolf has lost its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in many states. Earlier this year the gray wolf was no longer listed as endangered or threatened in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. The gray wolf lost its protected status in Montana and Idaho in 2011.
According to a statement issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said "The return of the wolf to the Northern Rocky Mountains is a major success story, and reflects the remarkable work of States, Tribes, and our many partners to bring this iconic species back from the brink of extinction."
The agency notes that Idaho and Montana have successfully maintained their wolf population since the wolf was delisted in those two states and indicated Wyoming plans to follow suit through an approved management plan.
“Our primary goal, and that of the states, is to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains remain healthy, giving future generations of Americans the chance to hear its howl echo across the area,” added Ashe. “No one, least of all Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, wants to see wolves back on the endangered species list. But that’s what will happen if recovery targets are not sustained.”
There is some opposition to this decision. The Chicago Tribune article indicated some conservationists do not understand the reasoning behind animals being protected for just one more month "only to be subjected to "open fire" on Oct. 1, when hunting season in Wyoming commences.
FWS did note the gray wolf population will be carefully monitored over the next five years to ensure the wolf populace remains consistent in their recovery. Hunters also cannot hunt gray wolves inside of national parks or wildlife refuges. Although, in the rest of the state, wolves will be classified as "predatory animals", which would allow humans to shoot, hunt or trap the animals throughout the year.