Gray wolves are officially off the endangered species list, as announced by the Dept. of the Interior yesterday. While environmental groups will try to sue to reverse the decision, if the delisting goes into effect and state "management plans" are allowed to control, the fate of the wolves will be a very sad one. There is still a great deal of hatred and misinformation surrounding wolves, and when the federal penalties for killing them are removed, I fear poaching, as well as legal hunting, will have a dramatic impact.
Hunting predators and pack animals is quite different from hunting herd animals. With wolves, you can't easily tell whether they are male or female. Nor can you tell which male and female are the alpha without prolonged observation of the pack. Pack structure is important, and killing any pack member, let alone several, dramatically disrupts breeding patterns and the life of all the wolves in the pack. More than likely, packs will shatter and break up.
In addition, at least one wolf pack is helping to keep chronic wasting disease out of Yellowstone National Park. If that pack, in Wyoming, is not protected, the disease may advance quickly.