Speak out to protect gray wolves | AspenTimes.com

Speak out to protect gray wolves

Gray wolves are under attack and need our help. Newly passed laws in Montana and Idaho — intended to reduce the wolf populations in those states by 80% and 90% respectively — are taking us back 100 years to when wolves were driven to near extinction in this country.

Without reinstatement of endangered species protections, wolf populations in the Northern Rockies will be decimated to a fraction of what is needed for biological recovery. Over decades the federal government invested heavily to restore these apex predators to their former range. All those gains are now at risk of being completely wiped out.

Wolves are a keystone species; without healthy populations of these native carnivores, entire ecosystems unravel. Wolves are an important part of promoting biodiversity and maintaining the natural balance and overall health of ecosystems.

Wolves improve the health of ungulate herds: Wolves target diseased elk and deer and help control chronic-wasting disease (CWD). In Colorado, 33 of 54 deer herds and 14 of 43 elk herds are infected with CWD.

Gray wolves have a negligible impact on livestock: Gray wolves have caused a loss of about 0.01 percent (148) of cattle in the U.S. and Northern Rocky Mountains in 2015 (the last year interagency data on Northern Rockies wolf recovery was published). In comparison, about 8.37% (141,000 cattle) lost to other causes that year.

In response to an emergency petition from the Sierra Club, Center for Biodiversity and Humane Society of the United States, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that wolves in the West may warrant reinstatement of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Now the Biden administration needs to hear from you. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that you want gray wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act. To comment go to http://www.regulations.gov/document/FWS-HQ-ES-2021-0106-0001

Comment deadline is Dec. 16

Delia Malone