Ranchers, hunters and Republicans have reason to cheer because of a new proposal from the Obama administration, meanwhile environmentalists howl.
The White House has proposed removing the gray wolf from the federal endangered species list .
Scientists estimate the gray wolf population stood at 2,000,000 hundreds of years ago before North America was settled by Europeans. Now at the last count in December of 2012, they’ve been reduced to 46 in the entire state of Oregon and 51 in Washington State. That’s just over 6,000 in the entire lower 48 states.
The Obama administration’s proposal would de-list the wolf in both Oregon and Washington along with most of the country. The Obama administration says wolf populations have exceeded the “minimum recovery goals” of 300 for three consecutive years. Americans will have until December 17th to voice there opinions to the department Fish and Wildlife before a final decision is made.
The gray wolf was almost extinct in the 1940′s and has been under federal protection since 1967.
Critics oppose the de-listing of the gray wolf because it would leave the individual states to regulate the wolf population, and many fear states will immediately ramp up the hunting of gray wolfs. Oregon Democratic Rep. Pete DeFazio, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, has taken the side of conservationists. He and 55 of his colleagues wrote Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe, pleading to keep the gray wolf on the endangered list.