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.
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
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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