Gray wolves no longer endangered, says the Bush administration
The gray wolf -- or rather, most gray wolves -- will be removed from the endangered species list, Bush administration officials announced yesterday.
Wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Idaho, Montana, and parts of Utah, Washington and Oregon will lose their federal protection when the delisting takes effect in late February. Wyoming wolves will maintain their protected status because, according to the Interior Department, state officials there haven't done enough to help their recovery.
"Wolves have recovered in the Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountains because of the hard work, cooperation and flexibility shown by states, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions.... We can all be proud of our various roles in saving this icon of the American wilderness," said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett.
Gray wolves also lost their endangered status for a brief period last year, but a judge restored their endangered status in October. And the Chicago Tribune's Jim Tankersley reports that yesterday's announcement will probably not be the end of the discussion:
The move, less than a week before President Bush leaves office, could be short-lived. Environmental groups hope President-elect Barack Obama will quickly reverse it after his inauguration. If he doesn't, the groups, which have blocked previous efforts to delist the wolf in court, say they'll sue again.
Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said Wednesday that the president-elect "will review all 11th-hour regulations and will address them once he is president." A Senate committee could shed more light on the issue today when it questions Obama's choice for Interior secretary, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.)
"The bottom line is wolves are fully recovered, and they should be delisted.... It's the right time and the right thing to do," said Ed Bangs, federal gray wolf recovery coordinator.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Dennis Magee / Associated Press