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Rick Worthington Federal Protections Gray Wolf
by Rick Worthington, click here for bio

Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: March 21, 2019

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it will remove Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in all lower 48 states.

Many ranchers are celebrating the move.

BUT -- Wildlife Biologist Eric Molvar says in many parts of the western United States, wolves essentially are absent, and the animal is just starting to be re-established in limited areas.

"It's good that they are recovering, it's good that there are more wolves than there used to be," she said. "But you can't stop the protections prematurely before you get there, or you simply send a species back into an imperiled phase."

Trump administration disagrees - and has decided the species has fully recovered and no longer needs protections, and groups representing farmers and ranchers have praised the move.

Molvar said the livestock industry has been working to delist wolves for years because native predators threaten their profitability on public lands, especially in western states.

"That isn't recovery," she said. "That's just wolves essentially living in sort of uncaged zoos, when we really need them to be across the landscape, to be part of the ecosystems that they need to be in."

Molvar added that the absence of wolves across much of the West is in part responsible for ecological imbalances and the spread of chronic wasting disease.

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