[caption id="attachment_78156" align="aligncenter" width="710"] The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a canid native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America, Eurasia, and North Africa. It is the largest member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to a German shepherd, or sled dog, but has a larger head, narrower chest, longer legs, straighter tail, and bigger paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a mottled gray in colour, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.[/caption]An independent panel advising the US Fish and Wildlife Service has voted unanimously against the agency's proposed ending the endangered species status for the grey wolf.
The species was reintroduced into Montana and neighboring states almost two decades again in a controversial move that adversely affected ranchers who, along with their state representatives, protested the move.
As far as the grey wolf population in Yellowstone National Park goes, it has met what are called "recovery targets" for the past 11 years consecutively. In fact, the Fish and Wildlife Service has handed management of the grey wolf population to the respective states. Given the constant pressure by the states to finally remove the "endangered" species status of the grey wolves and their healthy population, the agency proposed lifting the ban across all 48 contiguous states.
"It is widely agreed by both sides that despite this evidence, the theory that the eastern wolf is a distinct species is controversial and therefore, in the absence of dramatic new evidence, the conclusion now that the eastern wolf is well supported as a distinct species ... is surprising," Dr. Robert Wayne, a geneticist from UCLA, wrote in the report.
"I am just stating for the record that there is still a controversy out there," Wayne said at a December meeting where the recommendation was under discussion.
The proposal was met with literal howls of protest from both scientists and conservationists. What the scientific community was particularly critical of was what they called a lack of science in the decision. By lack of science, they meant that the agency based its prosed endangered species lifting on an internal study as opposed to published research in a scientific peer-review journal. Their vote against the proposed change virtually ensures there will be no change in the protected status of the grey wolf for the time being.
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Panel says U.S. should maintain protection for transplanted Canadian wolves