If I were a big, bad wolf, I think I'd just throw up a white flag and ask to get shot—the roller-coaster of emotional decisions regarding my endangered status might just be too much for my lupine mind. Yesterday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they may try and submit a plan to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species list in the Lower 48 before the week ends.
Ed Bangs, the federal gray wolf recovery coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said it is possible a new delisting rule could be out and published in the Federal Register on or before Friday.
"We're hoping to get it out [this week], but whether that happens or not, I don't know," Bangs said.
Critics contend that the USFWS is simply rushing the new rules in hopes that they can push through a flawed initiative in the lame-duck days of the Bush administration, before an incoming President Obama could block plans to de-list the wolf. Meanwhile, ranchers, trophy hunters, and some state biologists believe that the species has recovered enough to be managed as any other non-threatened animal resource would.
The new plan comes only a few months after a federal judge struck down the USFWS previous plan to de-list wolves.
Wolves inspire both adoration and ire like few other animals. BACKPACKER Senior Editor Tracy Ross investigated the controversy surrounding one wolfpack in Alaska in January's "Dogs of War" by going into the field with hunters, biologists, and trappers. What she found might surprise you.
What do you think? Are wolves ready to be de-listed in the Lower 48?