Is it time to end protections for Northwest wolves?
The Capital Press thinks so.
So too do a lot of hunters and others, judging from online reaction to each and every little bit of wolf news I post.
But if anyone can match the number of wolf stories I’ve done, it is the Press (the Spokesman-Review‘s Rich Landers probably has us both topped), which looks at the issue from a rancher’s standpoint.
In an editorial out Thursday and headlined “No protection needed for wolves,” the Salem-based news organization writes:
“Wolves are thriving in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and other states — even California. The idea that any resources or protections are required to help those populations of apex predators spread borders on laughable (sic).”
The Press isn’t saying anything WDFW, Eastside Congessmen and others haven’t already said, but it calls on Congress to delist the species in the rest of the West outside the Northern Rockies, as lawmakers did in 2011.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed doing just that.
In June 2013.
The four-and-a-half-year hold-up can be traced to a court case involving Wyoming and Great Lakes wolves. The former delisting was upheld by a federal appeals court earlier this year, the latter was not.
Though disappointed, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said the judge’s decision still provided a “path forward.”
Even in the absence of a federal listing, there would be state protections.
Meanwhile, the wolf issue is hotter than I ever recall seeing at this point of the year, fueled by news of depredations, the shooting of a wolf by an elk hunter and commentary on it, lethal removals, litigious groups’ lawsuits, caught-in-the-act incidents, and poachings in Northeast and Southern Oregon.
Things are beginning to feel slightly out of control, and there is grave danger in over-the-top rah-rah for each illegal killing of a wolf.
The Press put it thusly:
“We did not write the law, nor do we agree that wolves should be a protected species. But to blatantly violate the law only bolsters wolf advocates’ arguments for protecting the animals.”
Wolves are going to be around a long, long time.
There is no doubt.
The faster we normalize things, the better off it will be for everyone involved, not to mention the wolves.