Endangered species protections for the gray wolf have been removed by the Trump administration. Although the environmentalists argue it has not yet recovered, the removal of the protections will pave the way for hunting the species.
The protections will be lifted for the wolves in the continental U.S., except for a small band of Mexican gray wolves found in Arizona and New Mexico. However, environmentalists say they already plan to challenge the rule in court.
"After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery," said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. "Today's announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law."
Kristen Boyles, an Earthjustice attorney, is not in support of the new rule.
"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. This delisting decision is what happens when bad science drives bad policy — and it's illegal, so we will see them in court," Boyles said.
A Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson explained that Interior does not have to ensure that the species has returned to all areas where it has been in the past. Even though protection for the wolf will be up to each state, many states are likely to allow hunting of the species.
"Turning gray wolf population management back over to states and tribes will give back local control and inevitably save cattle, sheep, other livestock, and families from the threat of a grey wolf. This is a great win for the West, and I thank the Trump Administration for consistently prioritizing agribusinesses across America," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).