The challenge of wolf recovery: an ongoing dilemma for state managers

The Wildlife Professional




“Dave, would you do another legal declaration on the wolf for us?” The weary voice on the phone belonged to Mike Jimenez, Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Management and Science Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). He was calling from Wyoming to ask me to prepare a document to address a legal challenge to the FWS’s August 2012 delisting of the wolf (Canis lupus) in Wyoming, a highly controversial move. Mike’s tone reflected the reality that — as so many wildlife biologists know and live each day — wildlife management is mainly people management. This contention could not be truer for managing any wildlife species than for managing the wolf. Dubbed “the beast of waste and desolation” by Teddy Roosevelt (The Wilderness Hunter 1893/1900), wolves had been universally hated as prolific predators of valuable livestock and game. Around the turn of the 20th century, members of the U.S. Biological Survey and various state agents, ranchers, cowboys, and other frontiersmen poisoned and persecuted wolves, extirpating them from most of the contiguous United States (Young and Goldman 1944). By 1967, Minnesota and nearby Isle Royale National Park in Michigan held the only remaining wolves in the Lower 48 states, prompting the FWS to place the wolf on the Endangered Species List (established by the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966). The wolf then became the list’s poster species, and the timing was ideal: Silent Spring (Carson 1962) had just seeded and fertilized the environmental movement, which blossomed on Earth Day (April 22, 1970) into the environmental revolution. “Save the wolf!” became one of the movement’s rallying cries. And save the wolf we did.

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The challenge of wolf recovery: an ongoing dilemma for state managers
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The Wildlife Professional
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The Wildlife Society
Publisher location:
Bethesda, MD
Contributing office(s):
Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
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The Wildlife Professional