The Department of the Interior is expected to propose rolling back federal protections on gray wolf populations in the contiguous United States in the coming days, the Associated Press reports.
Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt broke the news Wednesday in a speech at a wildlife and natural resources conference in Denver, Colorado.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon propose a rule to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states and return management of the species back to the states and tribes,” a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
“Recovery of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act is one of our nation’s great conservation successes, with the wolf joining other cherished species, such as the bald eagle, that have been brought back from the brink with the help of the ESA,” the FWS said.
The agency has attempted to delist the gray wolf since 2003 after the animal’s recovery passed the threshold to be considered endangered.
Environmental and conservation groups have torpedoed motions to delist the wolf with lawsuits that courts use to block proposed rules.
The federal government placed the gray wolf on the Endangered Species List in 1975 when 1,000 of the animals roamed the U.S.
That number has since risen to over 5,000 animals, according to the AP.
The government successfully lifted the protected status from wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana in 2011.
Each state now controls the resilient animal through trophy hunts to limit the predator’s spread and contact with people and livestock.
Many wolves are killed because they are a danger to people or animals. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department recorded 81 wolves taken, meaning killed, in 2018.
Nearly half of that number, 37, was killed in “predator areas” where each animal is considered dangerous and can be killed without a license, a Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokeswoman told TheDCNF.
Farmers and ranchers have complained about the spread of wolves for years, saying the predators are responsible for killing off livestock and threatening people living in rural areas.
The federal government spends millions to enforce gray wolf protections and fund conservation programs.
In 2007, gray wolf conservation cost taxpayers $4.3 million, the Scientific American reported.
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