After twenty years of trying to raise awareness about REWILDING, it’s really depressing that so many people still don’t get what’s going on and what’s at stake. Forgive me for repeating the obvious, but the basic facts cannot be over emphasized.
Gray wolves and grizzly bears provide our best examples of how the Endangered Species Act has been misused as a weapon to promote range expansion for two high impact predator species that are not biologically threatened or in danger of extinction.
FACT: The gray wolf currently has the widest circum-polar range of any large terrestrial predator on the planet. The IUCN officially lists gray wolves as a “Species of Least Concern”. Based on scientifically verifiable, measurable and observable facts, we can determine that the global population of gray wolves is not only stable, but is in fact growing.
However, as large as the current range and population of the gray wolf might be, their range and numbers used to be even larger. Gray wolves are officially listed by the USFWS as “endangered” in nearly all states simply because they used to live there, not because the species is threatened or in danger of extinction.
GRAY WOLVES are listed as “ENDANGERED” in all of AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, IN, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, and WV; and portions of AZ, NM, OR, UT, and WA as follows: (1) Northern AZ (that portion north of the centerline of Interstate Highway 40); (2) Northern NM (that portion north of the centerline of Interstate Highway 40); (3) Western OR (that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns Junction and that portion of OR west of the centerline of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction); (4) Most of Utah (that portion of UT south and west of the centerline of Highway 84 and that portion of UT south of Highway 80 from Echo to the UT/WY Stateline); and (5) Western WA (that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and that portion of WA west of the centerline of Highway 395 south of Mesa). Mexico [Source- https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=A00D%5D
The legal status of a species, and by that we mean whether it qualifies for legal protections based on a determination that it is either “threatened” or “endangered”, is being arbitrarily determined not by the actual health of the species, but by a comparison of the species current range with their “historic” range. By using “historic” range as the primary measure of what constitutes species health, the USFWS has violated the purpose of the Endangered Species Act. Congress intended the ESA to prevent species extinction, not act as a sledge hammer to promote range expansion for “Species of Least Concern”.
The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) is a species that enjoys the second widest circum-polar range of any large terrestrial predator on earth. Yet the bears are officially listed as “threatened” or “endangered” by the USFWS in the lower 48 states. Like gray wolves, the global population of grizzly/brown bears is not only stable, but is expanding. Based on these scientifically verifiable facts, Ursus arctos is listed by the IUCN as a “Species of Least Concern”.
FACT: Grizzly bears, like gray wolves, are not now, nor ever have been, a species at risk of extinction.
Lines on a map, or the historical regional distribution of a species, should not be used to determine whether or not a species is entitled to legal protections. In other words, just because there are fewer bears in one particular region than another, is not a sound scientific rationale to list the species as “endangered”.
So why does the USFWS and State wildlife agencies spend tens of millions of dollars and collude with radical environmental groups to expand the ranges of these two high impact predators into areas near human settlements? Why list gray wolves as “endangered” in states such as Florida and Ohio, Tennessee, Vermont, and Nevada? Why promote grizzly bear expansion through an inter-connecting corridor system throughout the western United States? Simple. The range expansion and legal protection of high impact predators is a punishment for the sins of humanity. We are told that people have moved in and pushed these innocent wild animals to the brink of extinction. They were here first. We need to give them back their homes. It’s only fair that wolves and bears are returned to the land that was unjustly taken from them by hordes of evil people building homes, communities, and cultivating the land.
The mindset that wild untamed nature is the measure of all things is applied by incorporating a philosophy known as REWILDING into our legal framework. We are no longer concerned with saving species at risk of extinction. REWILDING is about reducing the global human footprint and letting nature rule. REWILDING is about making man subservient to the needs of wild beasts. If you’re okay with that, then simply do nothing. Go back to sleep. Those claw marks on your door are just a reminder of your place in the order of things.