In April of 2011, wolves in the Western United States lost their endangered species status when legislation delisting the animals was passed. According to the Atlantic, the new law allows states like Idaho and Montana to create their own policies regarding wolves in the Northern Rockies.
The legislation was Congress' first ever to remove protections for a species long listed as endangered, according to the news source. The delisting of gray wolves (which total an approximate 1,650 to date) has put supporters of the Endangered Species Act, which has worked to preserve and protect species for nearly four decades, on alert.
Speaking to the Atlantic, Eric Glitzenstein, a conservation group lawyer, said that the law "set an absolutely horrendous precedent." Other conservationists fear the move signals a potential for more species to be delisted as a result of contentious political battles - including the Delta Smelt in California.
The article notes that species conservation will be a major platform for debate between politicians, animal activists, hunting groups and conservationists who want to save animals
in the next election. There are 21 animals proposed for listing as endangered or threatened alongside the 620 species already listed, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.