It's been a roller-coaster year for our lupine friends in the Northern Rockies. First, they get dropped from the Endangered Species list, which led to hunting casualties in Wyoming. Next, Idaho and Montana announced plans to introduce state-run wolf hunts in the fall. But then a federal judge issued an injunction, restoring protection for gray wolves in the U.S. But since the ruling was temporary, it's not like wolves had fully dodged the bullet.
Now it seems they've caught a major break: Wolves will now stay on the Endangered Species list for the foreseeable future, according to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinator Ed Bangs. They plan to withdraw their rule that declared wolves officially recovered in the Northern Rockies. Wolves will enjoy full protection under the Endangered Species Act until the USFWS can draw new plans that better provide for wolf protection after de-listing.
"This means you do away with the de-listing rule and give it back to the Fish and Wildlife Service to think about more," he said. "There's going to be a thorough, fine-toothed comb going through it to decide what we can do better."
Conservation groups like Earthjustice who sued the federal government after wolf de-listing are naturally stoked:
"Hopefully, they'll go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan that better protects wolves," said Earthjustice attorney Doug Honnold.
Wolves can breathe easy for now, but pro-wolf hunting lobbies in the Northern Rockies will probably keep this case from fully closing. They're hungry like the wolf...for wolves. (Sorry).
— Ted Alvarez
Feds keeping Northern Rockies wolf listed for now (AP)