A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to halt public wolf hearings in Colorado, Oregon and Montana has met with criticism from environmental advocates such as the Defenders of Wildlife.
"We are very disappointed to see the Obama Administration and the Fish and Wildlife Service ignoring wolf supporters in some of the nation's best remaining, unoccupied wolf habitat," says Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders president.
The federal government is turning its back on Americans who want to see thriving wolf populations restored, adds Clark. "Those who oppose the Service's premature and short-sighted delisting proposal deserve a chance to voice their concerns. By excluding their voices, the Fish and Wildlife Service is effectively cutting off public debate about the future of wolves in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest," he argues.
The proposal to strip federal protection of the wolves across most of the U.S. has led to vocal dissent from environmentalists, but ranchers who have sustained substantial economic losses due to wolf kills – many done as random acts of pack aggression not related to feeding needs – find some relief in the fed's decision.
On June 6, 2013, FWS proposed to strip the federal protection for gray wolves. If approved, the delisting proposal could preclude any further wolf recovery in Colorado, Utah and other states, Clark believes.
He also predicts that nascent wolf populations in Oregon and Washington would be managed totally by state rather than federal government agencies with "no federal backdrop to prevent state wildlife agencies from significantly reducing wolf numbers in the future."
He cites a poll taken in Colorado this year showing "very strong support" for wolf restoration in that state. Additional polling is underway to gauge support for wolf recovery in other parts of the West, including Oregon and Washington.
For information on the activities of the Defenders of Wildlife, go to www.defenders.org/nwsroom.