The United States Congress has already introduced legislation to sell off 3.3 million acres of public land, the White House has already appointed a pro-drilling, anti-federal land head to lead the Department of the Interior, and this current 6th Mass Extinction is still raging onward. It can be easy to think of conservation of land and conservation of wildlife as two separate entities, but often times they are tightly correlated. Take the gray wolf and preservation efforts here in the U.S. Gray Wolf populations have a substantial impact on the environment and positively impacts dozens-hundreds of other species. The United States Congress has introduced legislation to remove ESA protections from wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Wyoming, in an attempt to expand their land-grab from the American people. Why would Congressional Republicans and a drill-hungry White House care about wolf protections?
Wolves have a large territorial pattern so any efforts to formally preserve and protect wolf populations will require a large amount of land. With a Congress and White House hungry for land-grabbing to drill, protections offered by the ESA to wolf populations get in the way. If passed S.164 will not only remove these protections, but it will also strip citizens the right to challenge it in court. A troubling prospect for those of us who treasure our legal abilities to challenge acts we deem hostile.
Having our ability to challenge in courts is wrong enough, but do we need wolves for any substantial reason? We need wolves and they help our National Parks. Wolves play an intricate role in monitoring habitat and have a major impact on the success of other species, both animal and plant alike.
As published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, re-introducing apex-predators ‘can help promote native-non-native coexistence,’ ‘limit population irruptions of both native and introduced species,’ and ‘this top-down force influences a wide range of ecosystem processes that often enhance biodiversity.’
For instance, since their reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park, wolves corrected the imbalance of too many elk, grasslands were no longer overgrazed, the habitats of beavers, songbirds, otters, among others were rehabilitated once willows, cottonwood, and aspen were no longer being damaged. With overgrazing corrected, more berries were allowed to grow, thus benefiting the bear population. Birds of prey also returned to feast on the carnage, and their populations rebounded as a result. Wolves even improve the flow and regulation of the rivers. Yes, the rivers! For that, watch this incredible video. Wolves have proven to be well worth having around.
The gray wolf is also highly popular among park visitors. Visitations driven by wolf sightings generate over $35 million a year in Yellowstone National Park alone. This benefits the local economies, generate revenue for small businesses, and encourage ongoing conservations that will lead to future growth.
So, back to Congress ending their protections.
It’s not because their populations have gotten so high as to no longer require protection. It’s not because wolves are attacking people left and right, more people die of bee stings each year than there are close encounters with wolves. It’s not to protect cattle as the anti-wolf lobby would have you believe, for that, I implore you to read this Letter to the Editor for a comprehensive breakdown on this locally charged issue. Oil and gas industry giants want to drill on land currently falling under protections garnered by wolves because it is wolf habitat. It’s that simple.
The 114th Congress introduced 20 bills targeting protections for gray wolves, and the 115th Congress is shaping up to be even more hostile.
The CBD tracks donations from these industries to Congress and compares them with the number of bills introduced, specifically bills that endanger the ESA. There is an obvious focus on removing protections for wolves simply because they require large amounts of land.
The threat is real and the special interests have a very strong sense of motivation. Read this great article for more.
So with H.R. 621 and S. 164, it is clear what the goal is: Drilling on public land. Protecting the grey wolf is protecting our public land. We must stand up for our wildlife and our lands or we’ll lose both. I hope you will join me in objecting to these moves by Congress.
Call your Representatives.
Tweet and share this information far and wide.
Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
The fight is on.