The restoration of the gray wolf in the northern Rockies is one of America's greatest environmental success stories. Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone and the central Idaho wilderness in 1995 after being exterminated by settlers, trappers and the federal government. Since then, these new populations have increased to 1200 or so animals. Wolves play a crucial role in northern Rockies ecosystems, helping to preserve riparian forests and maintain healthy populations of raptors, rodents and coyotes. They are also a boon to the region's economy, generating tens of millions of dollars in tourist revenue each year.

But Rocky Mountain wolves are by no means out of danger. The Bush Administration has proposed turning over management authority to state agencies, and the governors of Idaho and Wyoming are seeking to kill off more than 700 wolves -- over two-thirds of the Yellowstone and central Idaho populations. Instead of killing wolves, these states should be redoubling their efforts to protect them in the face of mounting development and other habitat destruction. The Bush Administration should continue protecting wolves under the Endangered Species Act until the states have plans in place to ensure that wolf populations will flourish in the future. They should make certain that connections are maintained between the three populations in the northern Rockies so that these populations remain genetically healthy. These ecological bridges are increasingly important as rural sprawl and industrial development continue to fragment wolf habitat throughout the region.

Even as the Bush Administration pushes ahead with its plan to strip Greater Yellowstone's wolves of federal protection early next year, it has announced a separate proposal to authorize the mass killing of wolves -- even while wolves are still on the endangered species list. The administration wants to be able to kill wolves anywhere that elk herd numbers may be affected by wolves. It is focusing on areas where elk herds are smaller than the states want. But those few cases of declines in elk herds have been caused by a combination of factors including habitat destruction, drought and human hunting -- not just by wolves. And in most areas of the Northern Rockies, elk numbers are at all-time highs.

Government agencies have already purchased planes and helicopters that are capable of gunning down entire packs of wolves in minutes, and state officials have said they would begin slaughtering wolves immediately if the plan is approved, reversing more than a decade of recovery efforts. In Wyoming, wolves would be classified as “predatory animals” in three-fourths of the state, allowing them to be killed by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Tell the Bush Administration It Has No License to Kill Wolves!
We must stop the Bush Administration's plan to declare open season on the wolves of Greater Yellowstone and central Idaho. Once approved, Wyoming and Idaho intend to begin exterminating up to half their gray wolves -- by aerial gunning and other cruel methods -- as early as this fall.
Submit your Official Citizen Comment, opposing this disastrous plan, before August 6. Campaign to Save Wolves