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Wednesday, Apr 16, 2014
Commentary

Making war on wolves


Published:

"Yellowstone National Park's best-known wolf, beloved by many tourists and valued by scientists who tracked its movements, was shot and killed Thursday outside the park's boundaries, Wyoming wildlife officials reported. The wolf, known as 832F to researchers, was the alpha female of the park's highly visible Lamar Canyon pack and had become so well known that some wildlife watchers referred to her as a "rock star." The animal had been a tourist favorite for most of the past six years." - The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2012

They're intelligent, majestic and, owing to the blood lust of Homo sapiens, never far from extinction. Yet to biologists and ecologists worldwide, the best case for saving wild wolves is their role as predator of some species and, paradoxically, shepherd to others: By stalking abundant elk, moose and other forest browsers, wolves unwittingly enhance the growth of crucial vegetation that gives foxes, beavers, songbirds, pronghorn antelopes and other critters a chance to survive.

Today, though, the survival most imminently threatened is that of the American gray wolf itself. Early in June an arm of the Obama administration pleased the politically influential livestock industry - plus hunting interests still smarting over gun control bills - by proposing that the wolves no longer need protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Until Sept. 11, citizens can submit comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We hope you'll join the fray (details below) and tell the feds how premature and reckless that policy reversal would be: Continuing today's level of protection would give wolves a chance to widen their territories and continue to recover - as bald eagles, alligators, brown pelicans and falcons were allowed to do when they, too, faced obliteration.

Thanks to federal protection that actually dates to the mid-1960s, wolves have begun to rebound from near-extinction - although today they roam less than 5 percent of their ancestors' range.

Stripping away that protection likely would freeze in place - and limit forever - this fledgling recovery.

Chicagotribune.com/wolf takes you to the appropriate federal website and its blue "Comment Now!" button.

Comment now in memory of 832F - shot down while wearing the GPS tracking collar that told researchers all about her storied life at Yellowstone.

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