March 25th, 2008
07:44 PM ET

Endangered No More?

Here’s a story that probably hasn’t been on your radar, but it is truly one of the most significant environmental achievements ever in this country.


Check out Dan Simon's photos from the field, on assigment for 360°. Find out what animal is coming off the endangered species list Friday... And cath his report 360° Friday 10p ET

This Friday, the gray wolves of the West will be taken off the endangered species list.  It’s a big deal because wolves were once wiped out from Yellowstone Park and the Rocky Mountains. In the early 20th century, they were hunted and killed with a vengeance, ironically, by the U.S. government.  Uncle Sam was concerned about their threat to humans and livestock.

The comeback started in 1995. After a lengthy and contentious debate, a few dozen wolves from Canada were captured and re-introduced to Yellowstone. Wolves are highly adaptable; there are now an estimated 1500 wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.   Biologists say they also have brought more balance to the ecosystem...

But getting off the endangered species list is not always a reason to celebrate.  The wolves will still be protected inside the park, but environmentalists are concerned when they venture outside of Yellowstone where hunters can legally kill them. Each state is only required to maintain a population of only 100 wolves. Officials insist, however, the numbers will be much greater.

But that’s no comfort to the critics who are planning to file a lawsuit to stop the delisting.  Many hunters and ranchers, meanwhile, couldn’t be happier. We’re going to explore all sides of the debate for our story airing this week on 360° Friday at 11p ET.

Coming to Montana and Yellowstone, I’m reminded how fortunate we are to tell these kinds of stories. Hope you enjoy my slide show – I’ve created for this blog. I was only a few feet from the bison and bighorn sheep!  They didn’t seem to notice or care.  We're going to do our best to get some fresh video of the wolves... although they're very tough to see.

– Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent

Filed under: Dan Simon • Planet in Peril
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Ram

    A balance in nature is required. I believe in Darwin's theory on evolution. The population of humans in this world is 6 Billion. This is growing rapidly. We are the most irresponsible & spoiled species in this world. We certainly need control in this area & our activities. Preservation of nature, animals & population control is an absolute must.

    March 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  2. Effie Watts

    Anderson I am disgusted with the human race right now for a few reasons but this, this is just over the top. How on earth can we bring them back and then kill them again. Has anyone ever seen wolves in the wild? They are not mindless unfeeling creatures. They are families. They support and love each other. That is clear from what I have seen. It's like having the government say it's ok to come into random homes and just kill one family member and leave. Imagine what that would do to the rest of the family?? How is it different for wolves who live in packs/families? That is what bothers me the most. Wolves, to me, are magical and beautiful and precious. We have much to learn from them. My brother Alex (31), who passed away suddenly one year ago this April in a car accident, leaving behind a new wife and two little boys, had a nick name. It was Wolf. He studied wolves and loved dogs, used to be a musher. I have a tattoo of a wolf's face on my upper back. Everyone who sees it tells me how beautiful it is. It is for Alex and it is for the wolves. I will never give up on them. I hope in your report you will discuss at length what can be done to stop the slaughter. I like your perspective and I have great respect for what you do as a journalist. please do what you can to help the wolves. They have no voice in the human world. Thank you Anderson!

    March 26, 2008 at 8:49 am |
  3. Jolene

    Dan: I enjoyed your slideshow. Keep the pics coming! I suppose only time will tell regarding the impact to the wolf population once taken off the endangered species listing. Last year, I believe they delisted the bald eagle. It would be interesting to know if we are seeing any decline in population of the eagles after they were taken off the list. As an animal lover, I just want to be assured that taking a species off the listing is, in fact, a benefit to them rather than a detriment. I wish you luck in getting that "shot" of the wolves!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    March 25, 2008 at 11:45 pm |
  4. Lisa Sharp

    The saddest part of the killing is the affect it will have on the pack,which has a highly complicated social order defined by alpha status. To allow an animal to be taken off the endangered species list should not be conguous with allowing it to be hunted . It should mean it is no longer in danger of extinction. Period.The yahoos that killed off the bison are still alive and well, apparently ,and have not learned from their mistakes.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:23 pm |
  5. Alys- Canada

    The population of wolves has not recovered enough to hunt a "surplus". And anyway, it is pretty much impossible to determine what a surplus is, especially after the species was nearly hunted to extinction. These wolf populations are far too sensitive, especially at this point in time to allow hunting of the species.
    In addition to what JoAnn said, people can also visit the NRDC website (who made the video I think she is talking about) to contact their representatives and oppose the removal of the wolf from the endangered list. I posted the website link before but I guess that isn't allowed here so my message didn't get posted.

    Thank you for covering this story!! I enjoyed your pictures Dan.

    March 25, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  6. Carol B., Virginia

    Hi Dan, Those are nice photos. It's great to see wildlife thriving in their own peaceful, natural surroundings. Hopefully, the grey wolf population won't be nearly depleted again if they're taken off the endangered species list.

    March 25, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  7. Jo Ann

    Dear Dan,

    I was hoping that 360 would do a report on the removal of the gray wolves from the endangered species list! I emailed Anderson about this problem last July.

    Not only will hunters be allowed to kill these wolves they will be able to do so by aerial gunning, trapping, and poisoning among other methods. The aerial hunting is particularly hideous to watch. The Defenders of Wildlife have posted a video of aerial hunting in Alaska on You Tube; I encourage everyone to watch it and then contact his or her government officials. I hope you will talk about this during your report. Viewers can also send a message to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Defenders to urge federal officials to adopt a national wolf recovery strategy.

    Thank you for following up on the plight of the gray wolves and the beautiful slide show! I look forward to your report.

    Jo Ann
    North Royalton, Ohio

    March 25, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  8. Minou, New York City

    Wow, Dan!
    Your pictures of the bison and the sheep are amazing! What beautiful, majestic creatures they are. Thanks for posting them.
    I'm looking forward to your report on Friday.

    I read in US News and World Report that the hunting of the wolves is regulated. It seems they aim to kill off the surplus of wolves that were born to keep the numbers from increasing. They call it a conservation tool.

    I revere the wolves and bison, and I so need to go to Yellowstone!

    March 25, 2008 at 8:54 pm |
  9. Lilibeth

    Thanks for your photos, Dan! I liked # 5 of your photos especially because it reminded me of a time when I was at Yellowstone. I was cross-country skiing when all of a sudden, a bison appeared out of nowhere, and I had to scurry up the hill to avoid it. It kept staring at me though; it looked like it wanted to eat me! LOL! I kept moving until I was out of its sight. They’re gentle as long as you keep your distance.

    The comeback of the gray wolf is good news indeed. I remember watching this particular story in the Planet in Peril series last year. It is proof that a healthy balance of all species is good for the entire ecosystem. If one species is destroyed or wiped out, the rest follow.

    I look forward to your report!

    Edmonds, Washington

    March 25, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  10. Annie Kate

    The comeback of the wolves is an amazing story but I am afraid like Cindy that the ranchers, and others will kill them and undo all the work done to reintroduce them to the US. In Alaska its particularly bad as they hunt wolves with helicopters and shoot them from the air.

    I'm looking forward to your report and all the wonderful pictures of the various animals. We are lucky to have national parks that protect the wildlife and the forests. They contain some of the most beautiful places in this country.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  11. ces

    As a person who has lived in the Pacific Northwest for 25 years, and who has always loved mountains and animals, this story has been on my radar for 45 years!

    March 25, 2008 at 8:04 pm |
  12. Cindy

    I heard about the wolves being taken off of the endangered species list. I think that it is crazy to save them and get them back to a great number just to take them back off the list so that they can be killed again. What is really going to stop them from becoming so hunted that they are in danger of extinction? It seems like a waste of time that they even saved them just to go and do this. I hope that the law suit filed can do something to stop them from being removed from the list. It is just inane to me that they'd even think of doing this! It seems like the farmers are in on this big time! Maybe a little arm twisting is going on behind the scenes!

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 25, 2008 at 7:54 pm |