The interim US Interior secretary announced Wednesday that the US Fish and Wildlife Service will propose delisting the gray wolf from endangered species status.
In several states, conservation advocates are reacting with criticism to the proposal to take the wolf off of endangered species protections, in part because they feel the animals have not fully recovered in their areas.
But here in Washington, wildlife advocates seem to have a different read on the idea, because wolf recovery is seen as making good progress here.
Chase Gunnell is with the organization Conservation Northwest, who says with an estimated 150 wolves in the state, it appears the population, is making a good recovery, and delisting on the federal level is not necessarily a bad thing.
“In our state wolves are doing very well, and we can expect that to continue under state management. The federal delisting that was proposed today by the US Fish and Wildlife service is not expected to have significant impact on wolf recovery in Washington State, "he said.
Gunnell explains currently, wolves in the western two-thirds of the state are protected under Federal endangered listing, and thus managed by federal officials as well as the state department of Fish and Wildlife, but in the eastern third of the state are already delisted from federal protections and overseen and protected exclusively by the state agency, through a state management plan. He says removing the wolves from the federal protections would essentially mean no change at all for Eastern Washington wolf management.
The proposal also finds favor with ranchers in the state.
Sara Lyons is a spokesman with the Washington state cattleman’s association, who says the state management in the eastern portion of the state has been much better for them than the federal oversight has been.
“It certainly has allowed us a lot more flexibility to have them federally listed. And the state is bit more nimble than the federal government when it comes to making decisions. So there’s the collaborative group, the WAG, that has established the protocols for what we do in the delisted part of the state. And so the cattlemen have been involved in that process and while it’s not always great, or ideal, it’s absolutely better than the lag time it takes with the federal government," Lyons Said.
The US Fish and Wildlife service will take public comment on the proposal before any final decision is made, but it is likely the proposal could face legal challenge from some conservation activists.