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National Parks Study Wolf Deaths As Agency Plans Delisting Endangered Species

posted May 12, 2019, 10:47 PM by chloe owens

4/29/2019, by Rachel Cramer, Montana Public Radio

National Parks Study Wolf Deaths As Agency Plans Delisting Endangered Species

Federal wildlife managers are gearing up to remove gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. But some environmentalists say the species isn’t ready and that the government is basing its decision on outdated science. A group of biologists in four western national parks are looking at the impacts of wolf deaths on their packs and how this could affect the greater population. Congress has taken a piecemeal approach to delisting gray wolves, removing federal protections one population area at a time. Gray wolves in Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington and Oregon, and northern Utah were deemed “recovered” in 2011. Wolves in Wyoming lost protection in 2017. This March the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it was time to remove federal protection for gray wolves throughout the country. It would primarily affect the Upper Great Lakes Region, where about two-thirds of the country’s wolves live. It’s not the first time delisting in this area was proposed. Wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin were delisted in 2011 and relisted again in 2014…Doug Smith is Yellowstone National Park’s wolf project leader. He’s working with a team of biologists from Grand Tetons and Denali National Parks and the Yukon–Charley Rivers National Preserve to figure out how individual wolf deaths affect the social structures of packs and their ability to survive…He says unsuitable wolf habitat and a high chance of human-caused mortality are the big barriers. “But what’s important to emphasize is both the Northern Rockies population and the Lake States population is connected to Canada, which in many ways in the motherload of wolves in North America.”