Can wolves survive under Congress’ animal act?

Image copyright EPA Image caption Wilderness people, are protecting themselves from wolves Wolves could be added to the Endangered Species Act as early as next week, under a recently passed Senate bill. What is…

Can wolves survive under Congress' animal act?

Image copyright EPA Image caption Wilderness people, are protecting themselves from wolves

Wolves could be added to the Endangered Species Act as early as next week, under a recently passed Senate bill.

What is the bill?

The Endangered Species Preservation Act would protect grizzly bears, wolves, sage grouse and other wildlife under the act.

The legislation would allow states to designate areas as “wilderness”. It also includes protection of the older subspecies of grey wolves.

The bill has been criticised by environmentalists.

Why was it passed?

The endangered species act was designed to safeguard vulnerable populations of threatened wildlife.

But conservationists claim the act has been abused by US states to remove protections from animals deemed pests. The bill is intended to change the way the act is currently implemented.

Under the draft bill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would designate areas as protected wilderness and allow some species to recover naturally.

It would be up to states to define specific wilderness areas. This could include designating new land – as well as creating wildlife refuge areas.

Land to be protected would be owned by the federal government or have conservation purposes, and would not be available for recreational use.

Seeds and fauna would still need to be closely monitored for any effects of potential wilderness-type habitat on other species.

Is the bill likely to pass the House?

The bill is one of 17 House bills of similar nature that aim to help environmentally-threatened species, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Eight bills have passed the House so far.

But Senate passage of the bill requires the president’s signature. It could be vetoed.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Activists gather outside the White House against the bill

The new sanctuary bills are against White House policy.

“Any legislation that weakens our nation’s robust management of endangered species must be vetoed,” Marcia McNutt, the head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.

“The Endangered Species Act is a critical tool for protecting the health of our environment for future generations.”

Why have wolves become endangered?

The act was put in place in 1973 to protect endangered wildlife, and its protections are supposed to be 10 years in duration.

This rule was cancelled in 2004 under the George W Bush administration. In 2003, the number of wolves in the U.S. had dwindled to fewer than 300 in a dozen states.

In the early 2000s, public opposition to reintroduction of the species began to surface as the population grew. This is because wolves had established regular feeding grounds in communities.

Minnesota and Wisconsin were involved in the reintroduction of wolves in 2011.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Wolves have been reintroduced in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin

Since then, wolves have been reintroduced in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Oregon. Many states have since removed state protections for their wolf populations.

Wolves have been removed from endangered species status in most states, and a few others, such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, are considering a similar move.

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