Science and Ethics Agree: Coexistence Must Replace Killing Wolves (Part 1)
March 4, 2022
Gray wolves in the US are once again under fierce attack. After 45 years of protection under the Endangered Species Act and despite scientifically and ethically-driven protests, the USFWS delisted the gray wolf from the federal list of Endangered and Threatened Species on November 3, 2020, with the ruling taking effect on January 4, 2021. Despite a recent February 10, 2022 court decision to relist many wolves, namely those outside the Northern Rocky Mountains (delisted by Congressional budget rider), gray wolves in the NRM continue to be exposed to the same widespread, indiscriminate, and state-sponsored killing policies that nearly exterminated them from the contiguous US in the last century. Idaho plans to reduce its wolf population by 90%, with the state hiring contractors to kill wolves using night-vision goggles, ATVs, leg-hold snares, and shooting from helicopters. Wolf pups on private land are also fair game. In Montana the plan is to kill up to 85% of wolves. Hunters may now kill an unlimited number of wolves day or night, use bait, and be paid a bounty by the state. While wolves were delisted, Wisconsin intended to hold another wolf hunting season of at least 130 wolves in November, 2021 despite holding one 9 months prior that led to the legal killing of 218 wolves (overshooting the official quota by nearly 83%) and the poaching of close to 100 more, but a state judge enjoined the hunt prior to the recent relisting. South Dakota allows wolf killing year-round (including trapping) when wolves are delisted, despite not even having a resident pack.
Author(s): Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, PhD, Liv Baker, PhD, Kristin L. Stewart, JD, PhD, and William S. Lynn, PhD