As we go to press, proposals have been published in the Federal Register by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that portend an enormous impact on the future of the affected species. The first calls for the removal of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The second proposal is for the listing of all chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) as endangered under the ESA. Currently there is a “split-listing” of chimpanzees—with wild ones considered endangered, but captive individuals classified as threatened and subject to commercial exploitation.
If the proposal on chimpanzees is adopted, a much more thorough vetting process will be required before captive chimpanzees can be used for experimentation or other purposes. In addition, we anticipate that it will encourage a greater understanding of the precarious state of chimpanzee populations. “Our hope is that this proposal will ignite renewed public interest in the status of chimpanzees in the wild,” stated USFWS director Dan Ashe. He also noted in a blog post that “it is in our nature to protect and conserve this iconic species.”
The wolf, conversely, has been thrown to the hunters. USFWS proposes to downlist the gray wolf, despite the agency’s acknowledgement that the wolf is “an integral component of the ecosystems to which it typically belongs,” and that “the ESA requires that we recover listed species such that they … are no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.” Yet, the very act of downlisting will once again expose the gray wolf to the same threats that led to its virtual extermination by hunters, ranchers, and the state game agencies that represent them and continue to loathe the wolf.
To submit comments in defense of the gray wolf and in opposition to their downlisting, please visit AWI’s website at www.awionline.org/graywolf.