Wolves are about to be stripped of their federal protections as endangered species in the US.
Millions of people oppose this dangerous decision - and the dangerous precedent it would set - including scientists, wildlife watchers, outdoor enthusiasts and many hunters.
The issue is finally gaining national attention from the media. Today at 5:45 EST, All Things Considered on NPR aired this segment on the controversy and plight of the long-beleaguered wolf as the feds are poised to strip federal protections from this most maligned of species.
Hear the audio transcript, here.
While the USFWS claims they are not in the business of restoring ecosystems, by all accounts, they should be. Science and the understanding of interdependence, interconnectedness and biosystem dynamics has grown immeasurably since the ESA was first launched.
It should follow, then, that the crucial role of apex predators in shaping both the wildlife and plant communities they inhabit, should be given full and respectful consideration when decisions are made.
Wolves increase biodiversity, restore clean water and preserve topsoil, feed uncounted neighboring species with their kills, strengthen and invigorate herds, decrease coyote populations and even increase safe habitat for songbirds and amphibians.
In short, the only way to protect, conserve and preserve nature in Her glory, is to protect ALL of it.
Including wolves, in natural, extended family groups, teaching each other the rules of the land, including how to live peaceably alongside humans and our livestock.
Because wolves and other social species have something not usually included in 'management' decisions by those who run things 'by the numbers'.
Wolves learn. Not only do they learn, they teach their babies, and the pack as a family learns how to stay out of trouble.
Leave the wolves alone, in intact families, and conflicts decrease. It's only when short-sighted 'hunting derbies' and other blood-fests are staged, that these families are torn apart, leaving desperate orphans and widows to try to fend for themselves.
Since wolves have lost protection in several Western states, a slaughter of sobering proportions has taken the lives of hundreds of hapless wolves, by shooting, poisoning, 'denning' (killing of baby puppies while still in their dens), hunting with dogs, use of electronic calls and baits, and nearly 24/7 year-round open season in major portions of some states.
But the killing frenzy seems to be growing as the states become used to cashing in on the slaughter.
The only good news: The Mexican wolf is to remain protected under the ESA for now.
However, the gray wolf, having been de-listed prematurely (under pressure from special interests), is fast losing ground. It may have been snatched from the brink of extinction, only to be driven right back to, and over, the edge.
The rules of the ESA state that there should be at least a five year assessment period after a species is removed from Endangered status, before hunting or trapping can take place.
That certainly was not the case with gray wolves, who are being slammed back to near extinction again almost everywhere they at at the mercy of state whim.
It seems without federal protection, we may well lose the gray wolf in the wild, but, with human population and unquenchable industry eroding the last vestiges of wilderness, and even national parks being offered up on a silver platter to exploiters, this time it will happen much more quickly.
The final decision on the de-listing is expected at the end of 2014.