Friday, February 22, 2008

Gray Wolves Booted from Engangered Species List

photo of wolf pups, courtesy of www.thelon.com

We knew the chop was coming. The federal government announced yesterday (Feb 20) that gray wolves will be cut from the endangered species list. The Department of the Interior, under intense pressure from hunters and ranchers, once again revealed that conservation is among their lowest priorities. And so three states are setting up shop for legalized hunting and trapping of wolves this coming autumn- Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Interior Assistant Secretary Lyle Laverty justified removing protection of wolves by pointing out that 1,500 wolves now live in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. But biologists say the minimum number to maintain a healthy population in that area is 2500 to 3000. (See my post of Dec 15 on the subject.) Biologists say that hunting and trapping wolves is likely to cut their existing numbers significantly, by several hundred.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice are working on lawsuits to halt the delisting.

But as far as the feds are concerned, a wolf population of 450 survivors in these three states of the Northern Rockies will be high enough, and will be sufficient to keep them off the endangered list.

For more info on the controversy between biologists & conservationists versus the ranchers, hunters & trappers, see my post of Dec 17 .

Inaccurate Stereotypes Hurt - Even in Play
I went to a play tonight at the school where I work - it was stunning production of Beauty and Beast and the students did a remarkably professional job. Their singing and acting, the stage sets, everything blew me away. It was a fantastic production.

But I couldn't help but notice the role of the wolves in the play. In two different scenes, wolves in the forest surrounded and threatened the lives of characters in the play. Ack! It's just fiction, but fiction perpetuates stereotypes. Wolves were completely exterminated in the U.S. in the 20th century because of unrealistic fears. Wolves never attack humans unprovoked, never. And they very seldom attack ranchers' livestock. Wolves that have adequate prey and habitat have no need of lifestock, and prefer their natural prey. Even when they do attack livestock, ranchers are compensated by Fish & Wildlife. We try to screen our traditional stories these days for damaging racial stereotypes, and some of us try to screen traditional stories for damaging gender stereotypes - sort of. Will we ever care enough about wildlife to think about the stereotypes we perpetuate with traditional stories, and how much suffering these stereotypes have perpetuated? Suffering, and ultimately, I fear, a lost species.

I'm not blaming Beauty and the Beast in particular, but change means learning new ways of understanding old stereotypes and perceptions, like wolves as varmints that should be shot. If we don't, our kids, our grandkids.....they won't have any wolves in the Northern Rockies.

Keywords:: wolves, stereotypes, endangered species, delisting

Source: "Gray wolves going off list." Associated Press. Charlotte Observer. Feb 22, 2008.

1 comment:

Alaskans Helping Animals said...

I am outraged about what is going on with the wolf hunting population control in AK. Check out my post: http://alaskanshelpinganimals.blogspot.com/2008/07/wolf-puppy-murders.html