Panel Opposes Delisting Grey Wolves

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to take the grey wolf off the Endangered Species list across most of the continental U.S. but a key panel determined their decision was based on questionable science that dealt with species identification.

2 minute read

February 9, 2014, 11:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

"An independent panel of experts said Friday (Feb. 7) there is wide disagreement about some of the science the Fish and Wildlife Service used to make its case for ousting gray wolves from the Endangered Species list. The review could hinder the FWS proposal to lift federal protections for the animals throughout much of the United States," writes Megan Gannon. Delisting the wolf would open the specie up to hunting.

The panel was not tasked with deciding whether or not the gray wolf should be removed from the Endangered Species list. Rather, they were charged with determining whether the FWS recommendation to do so was supported by the best available science, explained Frank Davis, director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis.

FWS had "commissioned UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to conduct an unbiased assessment and clarify critical scientific issues", according to a UCSB article on their evaluation.

The problem they detected had to do with FWS's decision to classify wolves in the east and midwest as a different specie - the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), as opposed to the grey wolf (Canis lupis).

Once driven to the brink of extinction, wolves have managed a comeback; "now there are more than 5,000 gray wolves in the Lower 48," writes Gannon.

In light of their recovery, wolves were recently stripped of their federal protections in states in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes region, where several state wildlife management agencies have established wolf-hunting seasons.

Under the FWS proposal, a subspecies population of about 83 Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona would keep their Endangered Species protections.

Thanks to the "independent scientific peer review, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on its proposal to...remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List," according to its Feb. 07 press release.

Friday, February 7, 2014 in LiveScience

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