The gray wolf will remain on the endangered species list, despite a petition by conservationists asking the government to remove its protected status.
Removing the gray wolf from the endangered species list seems out of character for conservationists, but the petition’s sponsors say it will actually help the wolf continue its speedy recovery across North America.
The petition was jointly submitted in January 2014 by The Humane Society of the United States and 22 other conservation groups. They urged Congress to label the wolf as “threatened,” which would give it fewer protections. However, it would allow the protections in place to be enforced nationwide.
The wolf does not have endangered species protection in several states, including Montana, Idaho, and Washington. This gives hunters and trappers authority to kill hundreds of wolves per year.
Some states have even pushed to declassify the wolf altogether, saying the predator threatens cattle operations. Currently, wolves account for only about one percent of unexpected cattle deaths. The majority of cattle deaths are attributed to coyotes and disease.
However, the Humane Society believes a threatened status would enable better management of wolf populations. It would afford ranchers the right to eliminate “problem wolves” and grant them forgiveness for accidental kills. It would also continue some federal protections to ensure its long-term survival.
The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to take further action on the petition. It said the petition didn’t provide substantial information that the wolf should be reclassified, specifically whether the wolf is is danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.