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Reminding Wolf Activists of Modern Wildlife Management

Modern wildlife management through regulated hunting has never pushed any species to threatened or endangered levels, and there’s no science to suggest it would happen with wolves, either.

The Boone and Crockett Club is offering this simple, historical fact to activist groups threatening new lawsuits designed to forestall state management of gray wolves.

Gray wolf

"We’re calling upon activists to look at the impeccable track record of modern wildlife management, end litigation and join hunter-conservation groups in celebrating the completion of wolf recovery," said Lowell E. Baier, president of the Club.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set May 4 as the next target date for turning gray wolf management over to states. Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar endorsed removing restored populations of wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species. His announcement celebrated another vanishing-to-flourishing wildlife success story. It also meant that states might soon use hunting to manage wolf populations alongside other resident species. 

That's the perfect scenario, says Baier.

"It’s time to get on with what’s best for both wolves and people. All other game species and their habitats are being carefully managed on balance with biological and cultural carrying capacities. Now that wolf populations have reached and exceeded population goals, they need everyone on board to ensure the balance of protection and management required for top predators in healthy ecosystems," he said.

Baier added, "Lawsuits that block state management authority are not about state borders determining population management, or genetic interchange or more science needed. They’re about activist groups not wanting wolves hunted. And that ignores the reality that America is well past the day when one species, especially an alpha predator like the wolf, can be left unmanaged."

A century ago, wolves were nearly extirpated as a stealer of livestock and livelihood in the lower 48 states. Since then, the science of wildlife management has evolved away from extensive predator control. Aldo Leopold was among the first to recognize that all living things in an ecosystem are interrelated. Successfully managing any single component means understanding and managing the whole, including restoring the role of top predators where possible. 

Leopold fostered new understanding that just providing blanket protection for one species is not enough. Everything must be managed or conserved together.