Lawmakers Push To Take Gray Wolf Off Endangered Species List

Beautiful Staring Gray Wolf
Beautiful Staring Gray Wolf

More than 70 members of Congress wrote to the Obama administration last week requesting that the gray wolf be removed from the endangered species list.

In a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday, 66 Republicans and six Democrats argued that the wolves, which recently lost their endangered status in the western Great Lakes region, no longer merit protection in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act.

The lawmakers wrote that the "unmanaged wolf population poses a threat to the communities and surrounding livestock and indigenous wildlife” and that state wildlife managers “need to be able to respond to the needs of their native wildlife without being burdened by the impediments of the federal bureaucracy created by the ESA.”

The letter was spearheaded by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. Dems who signed off on the letter included Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Reps. Terri Sewell (Ala.) and Tim Walz (Minn.), Jim Matheson (Utah), and Collin Peterson (Minn.).

The Humane Society filed a lawsuit in February to restore federal protections for gray wolves that were lifted last year in the Upper Midwest United States. Since the protections were lifted, hunters and trappers have killed an estimated 530 wolves in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

There are roughly 6,000 gray wolves in the continental U.S., according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. About 8,000 to 11,000 roam Alaska, where they go unprotected. The wolves were one of the most common mammals in the country until unregulated hunting nearly led to their extinction. When the Endangered Species Act was introduced in 1973, there were practically no remaining gray wolves in the West.