Comment on Trump administration lifts endangered species protection for wolves

Trump administration lifts endangered species protection for wolves

The Trump administration on Thursday ended endangered species protection for gray wolves nationwide, rankling conservationists who contend wolves still are vulnerable — and raising the stakes in Colorado’s wolf reintroduction ballot battle in next week’s election. U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt declared wolves recovered after 45 years under federal protection, and federal wildlife officials hailed wolves as an Endangered Species Act success along with the bald eagle. “Today’s action reflects the Trump Administration’s continued commitment to species conservation,” Bernhardt said in a statement. This removal of wolves from the nation’s list of species facing extinction, long-fought in courts, was announced at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge five days before Colorado voters decide whether to direct state officials to reintroduce wolves on former habitat west of the Continental Divide. It means the fate of wolves that could be reintroduced in Colorado, and thousands making a comeback elsewhere, depends on state-level management plans that typically allow hunting of wolves and “removal” by livestock ranchers. Federal wildlife officials did not respond to Denver Post requests for comment but were conducting a background briefing for journalists. In Colorado, Defenders of Wildlife Rockies and Plains program director Jon Proctor, pushing for reintroduction, said lifting federal endangered species protection is premature and makes voters’ decision on Proposition 114 crucial to guarantee a self-sustaining population in the state. “National wolf delisting would leave any wolves that may make it to Colorado with even fewer protections.

 

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