Since 2011, the USFWS has been trying to strip the wolf's protections and keep its population as low as possible while not technically being at risk of extinction. A population of 1,700, said Jamie Rappaport Clark, the president of Defenders of Wildlife, to the New York Times, "is really an unfortunate low bar for endangered-species recovery in the United States." In 2011, a rider stripped protections for the wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains; now, the USFWS is mulling a proposal that would finish the job.
The chairman of the USFWS says, "[The grey wolf] is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction. The ESA has done its job. Broader restoration of wolves is now possible." The government would like to leave the continued monitoring of the wolf's population up to state and local authorities. But those authorities can be more easily swayed by local interests, like ranchers, who tend to overestimate the impact of wolves on livestock (it is minimal, nationwide). Removing protections would leave the wolf vulnerable to hunting.