Wolves, Politics And The Endangered Species Act

The fact that wolves have been removed from the Endangered Species Act has created waves nationwide. Two precedents have been set with the delisting of this species. First of all, Congress has never removed a species from the Endangered Species Act before. Second of all, the way the removal came about was alarming. The removal was an annex to a disputed bill and came about after a long political battle that began while George Bush was president.

Many environmentalists are alarmed at this turn of events and their concerns are valid. The environment is a complex place; even scientists do not purport to know all that there is to know about conservation and endangered species. Politicians naturally know a lot less than scientists and yet they have given themselves the power to allow a previously endangered species to be hunted and shot.

How this will affect the balance of nature and wildlife in states with a wolf population is not known. Many ranchers feel that delisting the wolf is a wise decision, as the wolf is an apex predator with no natural enemies. However, what many people do not realize is that apex predators do play an important role in the environment. Each species on earth is meant to be here and is part of the natural balance. Eliminating a species or severely reducing its numbers always has unexpected and unpleasant results.

Mankind in general has not done well in conservation. It is only in the last hundred years that people have become aware of how their actions affect plant and animal life. The measure allowing wolves to be taken off the Endangered Species List is a step backward. It is a throwback to decades past when big business and politicians determined, often incorrectly, what was best for the environment.

The fact that scientists and conservationists were not consulted about the delisting sets a dangerous precedent. While it is possible for a species to recover from near extinction to the point that it no longer needs protection, whether or not a species has recovered should be determined by trained scientists, not politicians. Having politicians determine a species’ status is as absurd as having a congressman or senator determine how injured a hospital patient is and what measures should be taken for the patient’s recovery.

The delisting of the wolf from the Endangered Species Act is not only sad but also dangerous for the environment. No one really knows what impact this will have, least of all the politicians who passed the law. Time will tell whether or not the wolves will be able to hold their own. Time will also tell whether political reasons will in the future be able to determine the fate of other species. It is not hard to understand why scientists, conservationists and environmentalists are concerned. It has taken years to bring the wolves in the United States back from near extinction but it seems that it will only take a bit of money and power to send them back there.