The wolves of the Northern Rockies don’t know it, but they just got a reprieve. Judge Donald Molloy of the U.S. District Court in Missoula , Montana, granted a preliminary injunction placing gray wolves in the Northern Rockies region back under federal protection until a court case challenging the removal of wolves from the federal list of endangered species is decided.
The lawsuit was filed by Earthjustice on behalf of 12 conservation groups, so, at least for the present, the wolves are safe.
Photo credit: NRDC
Historically, wolves roamed throughout the lower 48 states, but centuries of misconceptions and hostility toward the species led to intense human persecution. These factors coupled with habitat loss effectively wiped out the species throughout most of the country during the twentieth century – by the 1930s, the wolf was almost eradicated from the American West.
Photo Credit: Earthjustice.org
In 1995, 31 wolves were released in Yellowstone National Park and have been allowed to resurrect their kind back into the wilds they once called home. In the park, they prey primarily on elk and compete fiercely with coyotes. In the lower 48 states, wolves now number about 5,000 in a reduced range which includes Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Photo Credit: http://www.nwf.org
Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), gray wolves were listed as endangered. The Act requires the US federal government to identify species threatened with extinction, identify habitat they need to survive, and help protect both.
But the Bush Administration had other ideas. With the wolf population at about 1500 in its Northern Rockies range area, the Administration decided that its numbers reflected adequate recovery of its species in the lower 48 states stripping the wolves of their endangered species protection. With their protection gone, the states inhabited by the wolves began making plans to allow aerial gunning, poisoning, and trapping to slaughter the wolves.
I have a love for wolves. Years ago, we had an Arctic Tundra wolf. She was 86%, so she was not quite full-blooded. She was an amazing pet. Today, owning a wolf is prohibited because it is considered an “exotic” pet. But in 1983, it was legal to purchase and keep a wolf as a pet. LobaLinda – which means “Beautiful Wolf” – was her name. She was the most intelligent, loving pet I have ever had.
To keep her in South Whitley, we had to have a fenced-in yard, and a conservation officer had to come to inspect it in order to give us a permit to keep her. The fence was six feet in height, but on days when I arrived home, and she was outside, I could see her head topping the fence as she bounced as high as she could to greet me.
If she was inside, she would be waiting at the front door. I would open the door, and she would rise on her back legs and hang her front paws over my left arm. I would have to spend a couple of minutes with my right arm around her, hugging her and assuring her that everything was okay.
Loba would lay her ears back against her head – not in a sign of aggressiveness, but in a sign of submission. This took some understanding at first because I had been told all my life that laying ears back meant the animal was angry.
Photo credit: http://www.asij.ac.jp
I will never forget LobaLinda, and I know I will never have a pet like her again. Wolves are amazing creatures, and to think of them being gunned down from planes and helicopters – all because the man at the top of the administration has determined that certain animals now protected by the Endangered Species Act should be denied that protection.
There is absolutely no reason for this slaughter. I truly hope that the outcome of the lawsuit is to allow the wolves to remain on the Endangered Species list. They deserve our protection as a valuable part of our environment and our existence.