Beyond the issues of hunting wolves, connectivity of wolf genetics between packs and whether the state or federal government is going to manage wolves, you can't help but be amazed by the spread of wolf packs across the landscape of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.
Back in 1995, the talk by wolf proponents was how large Yellowstone National Park and its ecosystem was and how it could easily accommodate wolves. The Endangered Species Act recovery goal of 300 wolves and 30 breeding pairs between the three states was viewed as a lot of wolves. Well, look at where we are today.
Montana alone had about 500 wolves in 2008. It had 84 packs. It had 34 verified breeding pairs and almost certainly more that weren't verified because of their remote locations. Wolf growth population growth has been determined to be about 20 percent per year. When is enough recovery determined to be enough recovery?
If there's a major failing in the Endangered Species Act, it's that once animals are listed, you have a devil of a time getting them off the list, no matter how recovered they are. It would be so nice if everyone played by the rules and under the law. Recovery goals in 1995 -- the agreement and rules under which wolves were reintroduced -- should still be the agreement and rules in 2009. And it shouldn't take court cases, attorneys and judges to make sure that happens. -- mark