Last Thursday, a howl of gratitude sounded from the endangered gray wolves of the US, after Federal protections were reinstated after being removed by the former administration.
In a trend of environmentally positive action, Judge Jeffrey White of the US district court of Oakland, California ruled in favor of reinstatement, after finding that gray wolf populations would not be able to rebound without protection. The wolves in certain areas of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming remain under state authority, but in the other 47 states it will be illegal to hunt and kill these important animals.
Some attorneys for not reinstating protections argued that these wolves were hearty enough to bounce back, but this fails to take into account active hunting by humans, which studies confirm is a major force threatening wolf populations. Grey wolves have been brought back from near extinction. Now that protections under the Endangered Species Act have returned, these animals have a fighting chance again.
While they do pose an occasional threat to livestock, and a very very rare threat to people, these wolves actually play a vital role in their ecosystem. They are in fact a necessary predator that keeps deer and elk populations from overgrowing and overeating the important vegetation in their habitats. Additionally, scavengers such as crows, other carrion birds, and even grizzly bears benefit by eating the remains of wolves’ prey. They even reduce vehicle collisions in certain areas where deer are abundant and frequently cross busy roads.
Not in spite of their ferocity but rather because of it, gray wolves play a pivotal role in the diversity of our American ecosystems and are a beautiful part of our natural history.