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With over 130,000 signatures and counting, several Take Action! Campaigns are tackling the emerging threat to America’s gray wolf population. For the past several decades, gray wolves enjoyed federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) after being nearly hunted to extinction. In December 2011, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services (USFWS) delisted gray wolves of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS)—a region spanning Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as portions of adjoining states—exposing the species to hunters and trappers. An earlier Congressional move delisted gray wolves of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS, quickly followed by hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana.
According to the USFWS, the gray wolf population exceeded initial recovery goals and no longer faces extinction. Opponents of the decision, however, contend these goals are insufficient and state management plans inadequate to sustain these numbers. As evidence, animal advocates point to wolf hunting seasons in Wisconsin and Minnesota, which have already claimed over 260 wolves since the delisting went into effect earlier this year. Among the dead are several Yellowstone wolves equipped with radio collars, killed along the park’s boundaries where researchers study the wolves. Most recently, the Michigan state Senate advanced legislation to designate wolves a game species, permitting trophy hunting of the state’s estimated 700 gray wolves.
Concerned citizens, however, continue to voice their opposition, calling for federal protection under the ESA and better management at the state level, rather than the kill-on-sight and trophy game mandates currently in place in several states. Helping America's gray wolves is easy: