Gray Wolf no longer endangered?
Federal officials for The US Fish and Wildlife Service were apparently barking up the wrong tree when they decided that the gray wolf –which was declared an endangered species in 1975–should be removed from the list across the majority of the continental states. An independent panel of peer reviewers, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California in Santa Barbara, issued a statement saying that “the USFWS’s earlier decisions were not well supported by the available science.”
An NCEAS panel member, Steven Courtney, stated that “The science used by the Fish and Wildlife Service concerning genetics and taxonomy of wolves” specifically used to decide to remove the gray wolf from the list “was preliminary and currently not the best available science.” Additionally, they discovered further scientific evidence that is worthy of consideration before changing the listing status of said gray wolf.
Frank Davis, director of NCEAS, added: “An important part of NCEAS’s mission is supporting and advancing science relevant to decision-makers and on-the-ground conservation.” He told the press: “We are glad that the USFWS sought our help, and we hope that the review process will help all parties moving forward.”
These findings make it all but impossible for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to not reevaluate their original proposal regarding the gray wolf. NCEAS research also indicates they may have to further study what parts of the country are “suitable for the gray wolf.” The federal government sponsored poisoning and trapping programs over the past 100 years and since 2011 it has been legal to hunt the gray wolf in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes.
Dan Ashe, USFWS Director, remarked in a statement that the peer review process is actually very important when evaluating the health of a species. Furthermore, he reported: “We are incorporating the peer review report into the public record for the proposed rulemaking, and accordingly, reopening the public comment period to provide the public with the opportunity for input.”
Now the USFWS will hear additional “public commentary” concerning the gray wolf proposal starting on February 10. Ashe noted the public will now have another 45 days to provide any additional information that may aid the agency in making a final decision regarding the gray wolf proposal. Interested parties can read the peer-review and comment at www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery.
(Image courtesy of National Geographic)