Federal wildlife officials have drafted plans to lift protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, which would end a decades-long effort that has restored the animals but only in parts of their historic range.
A draft U.S. Department of Interior rule obtained by The Associated Press says roughly 5,000 wolves in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes are enough to prevent the species’ extinction. It says having gray wolves elsewhere – such as the West Coast, parts of New England and the Southern Rockies – is unnecessary for their survival.
The rule would give control of wolves to state wildlife agencies, which wildlife advocates warn could effectively halt the species’ expansion.
A small population of Mexican wolves in the Southwest would continue to receive federal protections.
While rare, Gray Wolves can be found in Kansas. Tests confirmed that an animal killed by hunters in Trego County in December was a wolf. DNA testing conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed the animal was a western Great Lakes wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf.
Previous to December, the last confirmed killing of a gray wolf in Kansas was during the winter of 1938-39.