November 02, 2020
For 45 years the gray wolf has received protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). While listed as a threatened species, there has been countless projects to help return these majestic animals to their native ranges. Today marks a momentous victory as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has decided to delist the species.
Decisions such as this are not taken lightly, and the USFWS based this decision off of the best science available. With wolves expanding — and thriving — throughout many of their native ranges, this great conservation success can finally be recognized fully.
Safari Club International (SCI) has long been an advocate for the delisting of the animals. For the past 20 years SCI has fought hard for the delisting of the animals and their hard work is finally being rewarded.
"Safari Club International and our members throughout the country applaud Secretary Bernhardt and Director Skipwith for seeing past emotionally driven rhetoric and letting the best scientific and commercial data available guide their decision to delist the gray wolf," said SCI International CEO W. Laird Hamberlin. "This is an Endangered Species Act success story and one that should be celebrated by all conservationists. We look forward to working with state fish and wildlife agencies and conservation partners alike to ensure wolf population levels are maintained in line with management objectives."
SCI has been at the forefront of the battle to help conserve the wolf and transfer the right to manage them from the federal level to the state level. They believe that the best possible sustainable management practice will come from state game agencies. They have always been, and will continue to be, believers in using hunting as a management tool.
"Wolves deserve to be managed by very best science available to ensure that their populations are sustainable into the future," said Jim Hammill, chairman of SCIF's Conservation Committee and a retired biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. "There is no question that wolves are recovered in nearly all of their suitable remaining range. State wildlife agencies have the expertise and ultimate responsibility for management of this iconic species."
SCI is still dedicated to fighting for the conservation of this species and will continue to advocate for hunting as the best management tool.
Science-based management will be the key to having this species continue to thrive. Buying wolf tags or trapping licenses and pursuing wolves will now be a key part to sustain these animals for future generations.
Spokespeople from organizations such as EarthJustice and Defenders of Wildlife along with Jane Goodall even Governor Walz of Minnesota have made clear their opposition. While the decision to delist wolves was made with sound science there are those who believe this is just another way for the current administration to strip more environmental protections from wild places and animals. It is possible now that we see this decision make in appearance in the court system, due to the vehement opposition.
“This is no ‘Mission Accomplished’ moment for wolf recovery. Wolves are only starting to get a toehold in places like Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, and wolves need federal protection to explore habitat in the Southern Rockies and the Northeast,” said Kristen Boyles, Earthjustice attorney. This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy — and it’s illegal, so we will see them in court.”
As hunters and conservationists, we are happy to see this announcement and we need to make sure to treat it with care. The opposition to this decision will do all they can to overturn this ruling. By following the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation — which states all wildlife is held in a public trust to be managed for sustainable populations — we will be able to enjoy hunting opportunities for generations to come.
The recovery of a species to a sustainable level is always something to be rejoiced. Some hunting and trapping seasons for these animals already exist and we look forward to seeing hunting used as more widespread management tool in the future.