20 July 2008

Hunting Wolves -- Endangered Species

The gray wolves of the Northern Rockies have been on the endangered list for a while. However, this protection was lifted recently for areas in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho in March. A ten-year effort to restore gray wolf numbers the numbers of gray wolves have reached an estimated 2000.

The lifting of the endangered protection status was challenged by environmentalists, including the group Earthjustice, and as a result US Federal Court Judge, Donald Molly, issued a preliminary injunction to restore the protections. Judge Molloy will ultimately have to decide whether to make the temporary injunction permanent or allow the hunt to continue.

The hunt calls for 500 wolves to be culled.

Judge Molloy in issuing the preliminary injunction said that the government had not met its own criteria for a cull to be permitted. Specifically, Judge Molloy questioned whether the interbreeding program to ensure that the genetics of the various groups are sufficiently varied. Nevertheless, the government's chief biologist on the restoration program believes that the wolves are "a very biologically sound package."

This is an interesting case because it goes directly to the heart of striking a balance between maintaining diversity in the environment and protecting the interests of farmers who blame wolves for continual livestock attacks.

Stay tuned.


Brett said...

I wonder how much livestock is lost each year because of these wolves? Less than one percent? Here's a thought: instead of culling the wolves, why not pay the farmers compensation for each animal they can prove was killed by a wolf.

It may sound cynical, but I put farmers in the same class as Japanese whalers.

Rob Baiton said...

Now there's a thought. To be honest I have not done any research beyond the reading about the decision.

If livestock losses are minimal then perhaps compensation for proven losses to wolves might work.

Who pays? The government wants to go ahead with the cull and the farmers generally seem for it. Maybe, the environmentalists should set up the compensation fund?