U.S. Plans to Remove Gray Wolves from Endangered Species List

First Posted: Feb 07, 2014 05:21 PM EST

An independent panel is questioning the United States' proposal to lift federal protections on gray wolves and claims the scientific research cited by the government is insufficient to do so.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service claimed that the Northeast and Midwest are home to a separate species called the "eastern wolf." The federal wildlife officials want to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list across the lower 48 states with the exception of a small population in the Southwest. If the government's findings were accurate, there would be no problem following through with the decision.

However, the peer reviewers of the independent panel believe that the research is insufficient to make such a decision, which now makes it difficult for federal officials to stand by their original proposal. It seems as if they would need to conduct and procure research that would further reveal what parts of the United States are suitable for the gray wolf.

The gray wolf was added to the endangered species list in 1975, which the panel believes has been too long without substantial evidence to effectively remove them. The government also has not been helping their cause. Over the last century, gray wolves have been slowly eradicated through government-sponsored trapping and poisoning programs. Additionally, hunting is permitted for more than 5,000 wolves in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes. Existing protections for hunting the wolves were lifted in these areas back in 2011.

According to the independent panel's review, there is nothing wrong with their questioning of the government's dubious proposal.

"The process was clean and the results were unequivocal," said panel member Steven Courtney, a scientist at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California in Santa Barbara, in this article from The Guardian. "The science used by the Fish and Wildlife Service concerning genetics and taxonomy of wolves was preliminary and currently not the best available science."

The release of the findings by the independent panel has spurred much discussion, which will force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reevaluate their position.

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