NEW YORK – It’s good news if an endangered species has recovered enough that it could be removed from the U.S. government’s protected list — but actually being removed may be a different story. The critical questions to ask are what threatened them in the first place, and whether that threat will start wiping the species out all over again.
The Trump administration announced recently that it would remove gray wolves from the most protected status. While humans have threatened other animals by encroaching on their habitats, or in some cases overhunting for food, Americans killed off most of the native wolves out of hate. In the early 20th century, Americans hated wolves so much they began a government-funded killing campaign, which included not just shooting but also poisoning and germ warfare. People infected wolves with mange, which causes the animals to lose their fur and with it, their protection from the frigid winter nights in the American West.