News & AnalysisEndangered Species

Science Behind Plan to Ease Wolf Protection Is Flawed, Panel Says

Science  14 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6172, pp. 719
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6172.719

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The science doesn't support a claim that gray wolves (Canis lupus) didn't live in the eastern United States before they were hunted nearly to extinction almost a century ago, a four-member independent panel review concluded in a report released 7 February. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has argued that a different species of eastern wolf historically lived in 22 eastern states. If true, that scenario would support the agency's proposal to remove gray wolves from the endangered species list, because western populations have recently rebounded and the agency would have no legal obligation to restore the wolf to its eastern habitat, because it never lived there. But the panel, while not disputing the possible existence of an eastern species, rejected the idea that the two types of wolves did not live side by side in the East.