Due to recent increases in their population, wolves are no longer protected under national government regulations mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Consequently, outside of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, wolves throughout Wyoming can be shot on sight.
“The wolf population in Wyoming is recovered, and it is appropriate that the responsibility for wolf management be returned to the state,” Gov. Matt Mead said in a statement after the decision had been announced.
Although experts estimate that North America once housed roughly two million wolves, by the 1930s, their numbers had dwindled. The wolves were near extinction due to fur traders, bounty hunters and government officials eager to trap, poison and/or shoot them. In an effort to bolster the reduced population, wolves were reintroduced to the Wyoming ecosystem in the mid-1990s.
Advocates for and against the removal decision are vocal.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife, considers the wolf population growth to be “one of America’s greatest wildlife conservation success stories.” She calls the decision to remove them from the endangered species list “tragic.”
Conversely, Wyoming farmers and ranchers worry that wolves will prey on livestock. Bryce Reece, executive vice president of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, is glad that the farmers he represents will be able to shoot the predators.
“The reality is my folks aren’t in any big rush to get there to try to kill a wolf. They just want the ability to protect their livestock,” Reece told Sci Tech Today.
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