The comeback of MinnesotaâÄôs iconic predator may have reached its peak. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its intention to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act by the end of next year.
There have been other efforts in the past to delist wolves. This one is notably championed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whose arguments appeal to the mindset that nearly exterminated wolves in the first place. She says that the now-healthy 3,000 wolf population is âÄúhurting our farms, families and businesses, and our hunting industryâÄù âÄî claims not significantly borne out by scientific evidence. KlobucharâÄôs position is as oddly timed and strangely vehement as it is insubstantial. It bears the hallmarks of a calculated political maneuver; sheâÄôs up for re-election in 2012, and many special interests have long lobbied for delisting.
Yet there are more compelling arguments for delisting. Wolves have long since reached the recovery goals set out by the ESA and keeping them on it might undermine the actâÄôs legitimacy and resource base.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources already has a fully-fledged Wolf Management Plan, which will take effect once federal oversight is removed. However thorough, the plan lacks vision and ambition. It would give ranchers open season on wolves, and it focuses more on maintaining a minimum population than on continuing recovery.
Wolves historically occupied most of North America and all of Minnesota. They could again with creative local management. If coyotes can live peaceably in U.S. urban centers, as many do, then there is reason to believe that wolves, too, can coexist with humans in surprising ways.