Gray Wolves to Have Their Protections Lifted in Lower 48

Reports say gray wolves are set to be removed from the endangered species list in most of the U.S.

The Associated Press says acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is expected to announce the plan to lift federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states.

The move will be a landmark decision in the on-going legal debate over whether or not the vastly improved numbers of gray wolves constitutes a need for population control measures (i.e predator hunting) in certain places, along with differing levels of protections in places where they're still rebounding.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Spokesman Gavin Shire told the Associated Press that the proposal is "based on wolves successfully recovering from widespread extermination over the last century."

Secretary Bernhardt is expected to share the news at a wildlife conference being held in Denver this week.

The Northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes States have the majority of the some-5,000 individual gray wolves now believed to be accounted for. That's up from the drastically low numbers that led to Endangered Species Act protections in 1975.

Mainstream media, including the AP article noted as the source of this very news, will note the "hundreds" of American wolves killed as a result of hunting seasons instituted by individual states. Hunting quotas are conservative for the most part, and were determined along with large amounts of research and experience.

Wolf populations boomed in some areas of the United States (specifically Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming) where reintroduction efforts took place, and delisting in Northern Rockies states occurred in 2011.

Their historic range put them all across North America, severe reductions occurred because of over-hunting and poisoning in the middle of the 20th century, a recovery effort pushed them through, and they're now close to becoming unprotected.

It's a fascinating story that deserves a close eye, and hopefully ends with an outcome beneficial for everyone and everything involved.