In February of 2022, Wolves regained the protection of being on the Endangered Species List after many legal battles. Is this a victory? Read on to find out if these new 2022 wolf protections are a cause for celebration and don’t forget to subscribe!
Are the New 2022 Wolf Protections a Win?
Mostly yes, but there is much work to do. Protections were restored in 44 of the lower 48 states including one of the worst offenders for slaughtering wolves⸺Wisconsin. Northern Rockies states like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming were not affected. The world was reminded of these states’ bloodlust for killing wolves this year by the fact that 20 Yellowstone wolves were killed when they strayed outside of the park boundaries. These three states have been aggressively slaughtering wolves since the Trump administration removed protections before leaving office. Idaho for example has a goal to reduce the population by 90%.
Restored Wolf Protections Apply to Which States?
On February 10th, 2022 wolf protections were restored to prohibit hunting and trapping of wolves in states outside of the Northern Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, this ruling does not apply to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and New Mexico.
Congress delisted wolves in Montana and Idaho in 2011 and Wyoming in 2017. These states were therefore not a part of the Trump administration’s delisting and New Mexico’s wolves were never delisted. The 2022 order only reverses the Trump era delisting.
Protections have been restored to regions around the Great Lakes, the Western States, and the Southern Rocky Mountains.
Wolves and the Endangered Species Act
Wolves were amongst the first animals to gain protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and for good reason. Once found from coast to coast, by the middle of the 20th century, there were only about 1000 left just south of the Canadian border (mostly in Minnesota). Wolves were at risk of disappearing completely from the lower 48 states.
In the 1990s, 31 wolves from Canada were introduced to Yellowstone National Park and from there they have grown to about 6000 wolves ranging from the Northern Rockies, Western Great Lakes, Oregon, Washington, and even California. It has been quite a success story but there are those in America that would love to drive wolves back to the brink.
Years to Restore
The environmental groups who have won this protection state that it will take years to undo the damage from this illegal Trump Administration delisting. After delisting, many states like Wisconsin went on a wolf-killing spree. Groups like Hunter Nation (with loudmouth Ted Nugent as its spokesman) sued and forced Wisconsin to have a hunt earlier than it had planned.
It was a complete bloodbath for wolves with more than 200 animals killed in less than 3 days which was well beyond the quota of 119. Local native tribes were angered by this. These tribes refused to fill their tribal quota in an effort to spare some wolves since the animal holds a sacred place in their culture. A second hunt almost took place but another legal action was able to block it.
What about Wyoming, Idaho and Montana?
In response to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and The Humane Society of the United States, the Fish and Wildlife Service are now willing to consider extending protections to the wolves in the Northern Rockies. This is based largely on new laws in states like Idaho and Montana that authorized the widespread slaughter of wolves based solely on politics and right-wing special interest groups in complete disregard of science.
Even though wolves in Yellowstone are protected, there have been about 20 wolves killed this season alone. Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana are very unfriendly towards wolves. Unfortunately, these are the states that make up the national park.
As soon as a wolf leaves the park boundary, it can legally be killed. A wolf can have complete protection, wander across an arbitrary line that it can’t see, and then have no protection from the depths of human hostility towards it.
So who wants to End the 2022 Wolf Protections?
As I mentioned before Hunter Nation is one such group. Just how extremism has infected the modern-day GOP, Hunter Nation is another symptom of that. A largely conservative group backed by the right is more focused on killing than they are hunting.
The real goal of a group like this is to recruit new voters under the guise of being pro hunters or pro farmers. Killing wolves are just a political means to their end. They have no interest in the actual science of conservation. To them, conservation is plenty of deer to shoot and is no more complicated than that. Science has found that wolves don’t really impact the deer population that much except to kill the sick, injured, or old.
It’s quite fitting that someone like Ted Nugent would be the mouthpiece for an organization like this.
It’s hard to feel a sense of victory knowing that the protections added are likely temporary. Americans live in 2 different realities that are increasingly polarized. On one spectrum is science, democracy, and protecting the environment to keep our country beautiful. On the other is misinformation, authoritarianism, and a distrust of science.
Sadly our broken electoral system is one in which a minority can win against and govern a majority, the pendulum could easily swing toward the latter group at any time. I’m under no illusions that if that were to happen, the protections would be lifted and the slaughter resumed in all 48 states. It would probably be marketed as a family value on the billboards that litter the highways in “real America.”
How you can Help Wolves
Wolves are in trouble in most places they are found.
- On a national level, you could write to The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- You could donate to groups like the WWF or Defenders of Wildlife who stand up for animals like the Gray wolf. If you live in Canada, you could consider a gift to Exposed Wildlife Conservancy. In British Columbia, you can also check out Pacific Wild.