Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gray Wolf out in the cold: endangered status in question

In the last days of the current administration, controversial environmental decisions are still being made: the latest being a proposal to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list in several northern Midwest states. Environmental groups have promised a swift reaction, with a legal suit as one possible reaction as has been done several times in the past.

The number of gray wolves has been slowly increasing since its earliest protected status during the Clinton administration and there have been several unsuccessful attempts in the past to remove the wolves from the list. The gray wolf is a perfect example of the importance of top predators. While a bane to cattle ranchers, when wolves were heavily hunted then populations of animals ranging from deer to the smallest rodents exploded - trading a rancher's problem for new problem's for farmers and flora in wooded areas.

Organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity have said they will be taking action, both political and legal, to stop the proposed change in status for the gray wolf.

On the West Coast, the State of California has filed suit against the federal government, charging that the Bush administration illegally changed provisions in the Endangered Species Act when they mandated the elimination of independent scientific review of projects subject to federal review and, specifically, the new rule imposed that eliminated consideration of the effects of greenhouse gases on protected species and their habitat. California has taken on the federal government in the past regarding environmental issues and has won practically every case.

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