Wolves at the Door
Monday, August 29, 2005 - Bangor Daily News
With wolves in
nearby states and provinces, the animals are
likely to soon spread to Maine. When they get
here, state biologists plan to have habitat ready.
Beyond this, there is not much the state can or
should do to prepare for the arrival of wolves
a federal judge ruled recently that the federal
government must do more to restore gray wolves in
In April 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
downgraded gray wolves from an endangered to a
threatened species in the eastern part of the
country. To do so, it lumped wolves in Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont and New York - where their
numbers are small or nonexistent - with the
healthier populations in the upper Midwest.
Such a strategy violated federal law, U.S.
District Court Judge Garvan Murtha ruled recently.
"The [fish and wildlife service] simply cannot
downlist or delist an area that it previously
determined warrants an endangered listing because
it 'lumps together' a core population with a low
to nonexistent population outside the core area,"
the judge wrote.
He ordered the service to re-write its rule for
gray wolves. The service has yet to decide whether
to appeal the ruling. Judge Murtha's ruling could
that gray wolves in the eastern states remain an
endangered species. That does not necessarily mean
that the federal government would be required to
re-introduce wolves here, however.
In the meantime, Maine's policy remains the same:
If wolves come here on their own, the Department
of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will be ready to
accommodate them. The department does not support
the reintroduction of wolves into the state.
Reintroduction has rebuilt wolf
populations in the Great Lakes states.
This is a prudent approach. There is still debate
over what type of wolf lived in Maine. Putting the
wrong type on the ground could have disastrous
consequences. Further, there is little public
support for a wolf introduction effort, which
would also doom it to failure. If there were to be
such an effort it would have to be approved by the
Legislature. Lawmakers in neighboring New
Hampshire have gone so far as to pass a law
forbidding the introduction of wolves there.
Until more is known, welcoming wolves that come
here on their own while opposing a reintroduction
program is the best protection Maine can offer.