Wolves: An Unwanted Predator
Vigorous as a predator, affectionate toward its pack, the gray wolf elicits both fear and admiration among humans. This fear, along with ignorance, inspired a movement to eradicate the gray wolf from the lower forty-eight states in the early 1900’s. By the early 1930’s, gray wolf populations had been completely eliminated from the Rocky Mountains (Bangs, et al 147). In 1973, congress passed the Endangered Species Act that protected any wolves that naturally migrated from Canada (Bangs, et al 147). Public opinion began to shift and the value of the wolf on the ecosystem was realized. While the public support for a reintroduction increased, there remained many people who opposed the gray wolf. People living in the proposed restoration areas feared that the gray wolf would threaten both their livelihood and their personal safety. The reintroduction of the gray wolf to the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem should not be carried out because it bends the rules of the endangered species act, interferes with the wolves’ natural migration back to the ecosystem and introduces a new threat to livestock in the area.
The reintroduction of the gray wolf to the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem distorts and disregards the laws of the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed in 1973 to protect endangered species and their necessary habitat (McMurray 52). The purpose of listing a species as threatened or endangered under the ESA is to prevent that species from becoming extinct. The ESA implements recovery plans that stipulate specific regulations and restrictions regarding the threatened species and its habitat (McMurray 52). Under this act, any wolf that migrated to the United States from Canada would be protected. When the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reintroduced the gray wolf to the greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in 1994 and 1995, they listed the population as an “experimental nonessential population” so that it was not covered under the ESA (Li). The ESA states that “to establish a population under section 10(j), the population must be ‘wholly separate geographically’ from any already existing wolves within the experimental area” (U.S. Congress sec 10). Since wolf populations had already established themselves as far south as central Montana, this geographic isolation of the experimental population could be compromised (Bangs, et al 150). Since there is no way to differentiate a reintroduced “experimental” wolf from one that is protected under the ESA, this “experimental population” posed a threat to the safety of the wolves that had naturally migrated to the area. Listing a wolf population as experimental reduces the effectiveness of the ESA to protect the wolves that have returned on their own.
Consequently, reintroduction of the gray wolf in the contiguous United States inhibits the natural migration of the wolf to the Rocky Mountain Ecosystem. By the early 1930’s, gray...