The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, N.Y. has initiated the formation of the Northeast Wolf Coalition to offer a voice for wolf recovery in the region. The new coalition has submitted a statement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in opposition to its 2013 proposal to remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the contiguous United States.
Gray wolves face possible extinction in the lower 48 because after they lost their ESA protections, states immediately set on a course of unsustainable levels of hunting and trapping. Since then, an independent panel of biologists demonstrated that USFWS' move to strip protection from nearly all gray wolves in the lower 48 states is based on insufficient science. The peer review committee was critical of the USFWS contention that the eastern half of the U.S. never accommodated the gray wolf, but rather was home to the eastern wolf, a distinct species of wolf not belonging to the same species.
On Feb. 7, 2014, the scientists reported that "there is not currently sufficient scientific support for the recognition of the eastern wolf as a separate species," and there was unanimity among the panel that the delisting rule does not currently represent the 'best available science.'
The newly formed coalition maintains that wolves are pivotal to a better ecosystem function (such as protecting river corridors from overgrazing deer and elk) and increasing biological diversity -- from fish to amphibians to birds to moose.
Maggie Howell, director of the Wolf Conservation Center, said:
"The Northeast Wolf Coalition is working together using the most current peer reviewed science to raise awareness and increase public understanding about wolves. A broad base of public support is necessary for wolves to recover and we remain committed to ensuring that stakeholders become active stewards in that regard. There are biological, economic and ethical reasons to facilitate wolf recovery and the Coalition is eager to work with area residents, organizations, and state and federal agencies to promote the wolf's natural return to our region."
Because, the USFWS's proposal to delist gray wolves has no scientific merit, the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, must look at the new scientific evidence that the Northeast Wolf Coalition has put forth and do her best to preserve and protect the gray wolf. The reality is that the wolf population in the Northeast has been completely eradicated.
States in the Northeast need to take steps to restore and protect wolves. In addition to maintaining federal protection of the wolf, the USFWS needs to implement a comprehensive public education and outreach program to promote the knowledge of regulations and laws as the relate to the protection of the wolf across the Northeast.
The gray wolf urgently needs public support. Learn how you can make your voice heard with the USFWS. The deadline for comments is Thursday, March 27, so, please act now. These glorious animals who have been an important part of the American landscape for centuries deserve our protection.