Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Environmentalists to Challenge Gray Wolf Delisting Case in Federal Court

Gray wolf

The gray wolf had been delisted as an endangered species by the U.S Congress. This action shocked environmentalists, who recently went to federal court with hopes to restore the species back to its endangered species status. Conservation groups stated the Congress had intentionally intervened in the ongoing case of removing wolves off the endangered species list without having to improve the law and by presuming to disallow its action from judicial review. According to Jay Tutchton, a lawyer representing several groups challenging the case, lawmakers took a "political shortcut" which violated the separation of powers between the Congress and courts. Government lawyers, on the other hand, believed the delisting helped amend the Endangered Species Act by making a special exception for the wolf population in the Rocky Mountains. The result made the wolf the first animal removed from the endangered species list by an act of Congress, instead of a scientific review.
A wolf pack in Yellowstone National Park

In centuries past, wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction. Although their recovery in the Northern Rockies was deemed a success story, it did not sit well with farmers, ranchers, and sportsmen who viewed them as threat to both livestock and big game animals like elk. But environmentalists state that the impact wolves have on livestock and other local wildlife is exaggerated, and removing them as endangered species could push them back on the brink of extinction. It is estimated that there are 1,200 wolves in the states of Idaho and Montana. Many remain under the control of state wildlife agencies, who are conducting management plans in killing hundreds of individuals through public hunts. At the same time, about 300 wolves are federally protected in Wyoming for the time being.

I can only hope and pray that wolves will once again have a second chance. This battle between the conservationists, agricultural industrialists, sportsmen, and politicians has been going on for a long time. During this ongoing debate, U.S District Judge Donald Molloy denounced a similar plan in 2009 which was carried out by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. According to Judge Molloy, the agency had violating the Endangered Species Act by treating Idaho's and Montana's wolves separately from the ones in Wyoming. He again disallowed another delisting plan in April when it was shown as a negotiated settlement between the federal government and ten conservation groups. Unfortunately, it seemed the end result came when the Congress overrode Judge Molloy's decision which put the Fish and Wildlife Service's plan into action.

I strongly agree that the action made by the Congress was a clear violation of the constitution in terms of the separation of powers. As a wildlife expert, I also agree that the decision of either listing or delisting the gray wolf should be based on the process of scientific review and not from a political standpoint. There is also a similar situation in France recently, where a hunt was declared after wolves killed a significant number of sheep while recolonizing areas where they had disappeared. I personally think that this matter should be also be looked over by conservationists before anyone could just go out and kill a wolf. Then only would it be safe to say whether the animals are worth hunting or not. At the same time, as I had mentioned in my earlier posts, farmers and ranchers should come up with harmless alternatives in keeping wolves away from their lands. The best idea would be to have livestock guardian dogs to guard their livestock. If this technique worked for farmers in Catalonia, then should work for others living alongside wolves. These animals are crucial in both the European and American ecosystems for keeping the herbivore population in check. Without them, the forests in these two places would never be the same.

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