Bush Administration to Remove Gray Wolf Protections

Today the Interior Department announced a proposal to lift endangered-species protections from gray wolves across some two-thirds of the U.S., citing what Interior Secretary Gale Norton called a “dramatic” recovery. The gray wolf was almost extinct in the lower 48 states in the 1950s; two years ago, everywhere except in the Southwest (where the Mexican gray wolf still struggles), the wolves’ status was changed from “endangered” to the less serious “threatened.” Under the new proposal, gray wolves in Western states would retain that designation, but in 23 states in the eastern half of the country, federal protection would be removed entirely and population management left to the states. Some enviros criticized the proposal, saying that while recovery in Great Lakes states has been substantial, New England gray wolves still need protection.