Washington--The Trump administration wants to cut federal endangered species protections for gray wolves in the lower 48 states.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service said it will restart the delisting process that will cut wolves from Endangered Species Act protections once and for all.
"A fourth administration is now moving to delist the gray wolf. The time has come to resolve this issue once and for all and to base that decision on the science and the law,” said American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall
Wildlife Service officials say they’ll formally publish the delisting in the federal register within the next few days. This is the fourth Presidental administration to tackle a formal wolf delisting. Each delisting attempt was stopped by the federal courts and pro-wolf groups.
US Cattlemen and many hunting groups stand in favor of ending protections for wolves, saying wolf populations have grown too fast, killing cattle, deer and elk populations at an alarming pace.
"Through the years it has gotten worse, faster. The problem has always been big, now its bigger and we’ve lost so much livestock and I don’t think we can get a handle on controlling the wolves,” said Valley County rancher Phil Davis, Who lost 6 head of cattle in one month back in 2018.
Pro-Wolf groups say despite the fact that wolves are thriving in the West, state agencies moved too fast to kill wolves once protections were lifted back in 2012. Critics contend that wolves have not recovered in their original habitat, as the federal Endangered Species Act tried to accomplish.
Acting U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt declared Wednesday the nation's population of gray wolves has fully recovered in the Lower 48 states and no longer needs federal protection.
Bernhardt made the announcement during his speech in front of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Denver. That conference focuses on wildlife conservation policy and includes habitat researchers, state and federal government officials.
Gray wolves received endangered species protections back in 1975 when there were just 1000 wolves counted in the nation. There are now more than 5,000 living across the contiguous US and at least 800 in Idaho.
According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, most wolf populations are in the Western Great Lakes and the Northern Rockies.
“The administration’s decision to de-list the gray wolf is the culmination of a decades’ long battle that has pitted science-based decision making against litigious, environmental activism. The Bush and Obama administrations supported de-listing the gray wolf. Populations have far surpassed the recovery thresholds set forth by recovery plans, but too many environmentalists fail to recognize this success," added Duvall.
The proposal would remove federal protections for all gray wolves, with the exception of Mexican gray wolves, which are listed separately under the Endangered Species Act.