Wolves in the United States have been battling for survival for decades against a number of pressures. The most prevalent pressure of late is that of hunting as they are having an on again-off again relationship with protection and the courts of the country. The long history of negative propaganda against wolves, even present in fairy tales, has done nothing to aid in the coexistence of humans and wolves.
In 2009 wolves in the Northern Rockies were removed from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and subsequently added to the hunted list. Despite efforts by environmentalists, wolves were hunted in numerous states and entire packs were removed. The delisting has led to a number of court cases brought by environmental groups concerned for the existence of wolves.
Many methods were used widely used to rid the U.S. of wolves, including gassing dens, poison and shooting. These actions nearly led to the eradication of wolves in the continental United States. Attempts in the recent past to regenerate populations in the U.S. have proven successful, so successful that it appears to be leading to the wolves demise once more. Many states believe there to be too many wolves, causing too many issues-especially with ranchers, after the reintroductions over the years. However, according to statistics prior to the delisting in 2009, there were only 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. An additional 1,700 wolves are found in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Since then hundreds of wolves have been killed, lowering their numbers.
With this is mind, environmental groups have again filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. in order to change a ruling to give Wyoming control over wolf management. The ruling removed the wolves from the Endangered Species Act and placed them under control of Wyoming authorities which then decided to name wolves as predators. This ruling allows wolves to be killed throughout the majority of the state on sight.
Wyoming is estimated to have had approximately 328 wolves prior to killing being allowed from October 1st on. So far over forty wolves are said to have been killed. Wyoming has indicated that they will keep ten breeding pairs and 100 wolves in the state.
The Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council have brought the lawsuit. Overall the groups would like to see the wolves again placed under the Endangered Species Act and removed from control of Wyoming. The groups indicate that the decisions made regarding wolves could have negative consequences for other species in similar situations in the future.
It is unknown at this time how the lawsuit will unfold. However, the issue of wolves is an ongoing drama in the United States that is likely to go on for some time regardless of this single ruling.