Politics Behind Wolves and the Endangered Species Act

In the United States, the Department of the Interior declared that it has eliminated the gray wolf from the endangered species list, indicating a successful (really?) recovery under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The gray wolf spent more than 40 years on the endangered species list.

However, the fact that wolves have been removed has created a lot of noise nationwide.

Two issues have been raised with wolves delisting. First of all, Congress has never expelled a species from the Endangered Species Act ever. Second of all, the way the departure came about was startling. The removal was an addition to a disputed bill and came about after a long political battle that started while George Bush was the president of the United States.

Many conservationists are alarmed at this juncture of events, and their concerns are legitimate. An environment is a complicated place; even scientists do not promise to know all that there is to learn about endangered species and conservation. Politicians naturally understand a lot less than scientists, and yet they have given themselves the authority to allow an earlier endangered species to be shot and hunted.

How this will affect the stability of wildlife and nature in states with a wolf population is not known. Many ranchers feel that removing the wolf is wise, as the wolf is an apex predator with no real enemies. However, many people do not realize that apex predators play an essential role in the ecosystem. Each species on our planet is meant to be here and is part of the fundamental balance. Eliminating a species or rigorously reducing its numbers always has unpleasant and unexpected results.

Humanity, in general, has not done well in conservation and protection. In the last hundred years, people have become conscious of how their actions affect animal and plant life. The step allowing wolves to be taken off the Endangered Species List is a move backward. It is a walk back to decades past when politicians and big business determined, often incorrectly, what was best for the environment.

The fact that conservationists and scientists were not asked about the delisting sets a risky precedent. While a species can recover from near destruction to the point that it no longer needs protection, whether or not a species has improved should be defined by trained scientists, not bureaucrats. Having legislators determine a species’ status is as ridiculous as having a senator or congressman determine how injured a hospital patient is and what steps should be taken to recover.

The wolf’s delisting from the Endangered Species Act is not only sad but also dangerous for the environment. No one really knows what repercussions this will have, least of all the congressmen who passed the law. Time will tell whether or not the wolves will be able to live their own. Time will also tell whether administrative reasons will be able to decide the fate of other species in the future. It is not hard to understand why conservationists, scientists, and environmentalists are worried. It has taken years to bring the wolves in the United States back from near extinction, but it appears that it will only take a bag of money and power to send them back there.

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