After almost 40 years on the endangered species list, good news for the American wolf population: The animals are no longer considered endangered. And, therefore, it’s once again OK to hunt them. From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration has declared all but two small populations — Mexican gray wolves in New Mexico and Arizona, and red wolves in North Carolina — fully recovered. On Oct. 1, Wyoming will become the fifth state with a significant wolf population to legalize hunting.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe called the wolf comeback “a great success,” but it means that wolves are now fair game, and he noted that not everyone likes the idea of killing them.

“When you look at our friends in the environmental movement, there are a lot of people out there who just don’t like the idea of animals being shot,” Ashe said.

One can assume that as he said “our friends,” Ashe rolled his eyes dramatically and made air quotes while nudging the guy standing next to him loading a rifle.

A wolf that you could kill if you want. (Photo by dansapples.)

After all, who can say why the wolves began to die out in the first place? Was it a series of incredibly unlikely meteor strikes that dinged several hundred thousand wolves square between the eyes? Mass suicide? Perhaps they decided to evolve into bears? No one knows. Through some unspecified process, wolves started to vanish (magic tricks? teleportation?) and they ended up on the endangered species list. Now that populations have recovered, fire away.

To be fair (which is less fun than making jokes), there is a valid role for species control. Having a bunch of wolves running through our streets, making all kinds of racket and playing mailbox baseball or whatever, is not exactly a utopia. But activists worry that the wolves have been taken off the endangered list in order to “avoid the political controversy that wolves generate,” in the words of Noah Greenwald, of the Center for Biological Diversity. Wolves are unpopular neighbors, and politicians are big fans of popularity.

“It’s hard to fathom that you can be deserving of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act on September 30 and on October 1 be open fire,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife.

It was hard to hear Rappaport Clark’s statement, though, over the sounds of shotguns being pumped and icy-cold cans of Coors Light being cracked open. Time to go endanger us some wolves.