ELIZABETHTOWN — Adirondack environmentalists want the gray wolf to remain on the Endangered Species list.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently announced that it wants to “delist” the species, claiming it has recovered habitat in western Great Lakes states and in the Rocky Mountains.
The proposal has been subject to public hearings out West.
The deadline for public comment is today.
At the Adirondack Council, Executive Director William Janeway said the wolf has not returned to the Adirondack Park.
“While gray-wolf populations have rebounded well in certain areas of the western mountain ranges over the past few decades, it still remains missing throughout much of its historic range, including the Adirondacks,” he said in a news release.
If delisted, the gray wolf could be hunted and trapped.
Federal wildlife authorities protected numerous wolf species starting in the 1960s.
By 1978, only a few hundred gray wolves remained in Minnesota and in northern Michigan.
Recovery efforts have focused largely in the northern Rocky Mountains and in the northern sections of the United States, with active re-habitation and release of wolves.
Fish and Wildlife maps online show wolf habitat in the East specified “in error,” highlighting recovery in some 13 northern and Midwestern states.
But the Adirondack Council says wolves were once part of the Adirondack landscape, too.
“We have a 6 million-acre park in Upstate New York, with large areas of protected habitat that wolves once inhabited,” Janeway said, challenging the federal decision.
“Without having the protections of the Endangered Species Act, any wolves that naturally migrate into the region would be susceptible to inappropriate hunting and trapping regulations, making it highly unlikely that a viable population would ever get re-established.”
Janeway says the wolf is a missing component of the Adirondack ecology.
“We believe in the value of wilderness and wild things. The possible return of the wolf would be an affirmation of a healthy and wild ecosystem and part of what makes the Adirondacks so unique,” he said.
“The howl of the wolf is something that fits the Adirondack landscape and would provide a wonderful and unforgettable experience for those that may one day hear it.”
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