Let's talk about wolves. This hot-button species has aroused more ire and passion in our nation than perhaps any other. And, incredibly, there is no end in sight to the fight over the fate of this predator. Anti-wolf crusaders aren't backing down - and we certainly aren't, either.
This saga has a long and twisted history. Just over 100 years ago, between 250,000 and 500,000 wolves lived in harmony with people across nearly all of the continental US. Then, around the turn of the century, the federal government began a fear-mongering extermination campaign that, unsurprisingly, resulted in the near extinction of an entire species. The enactment of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, however, and the immediate protections that followed for gray wolves, allowed the species to begin on a gradual and halting path toward recovery.
Fast forward to today, and you'll find a species that is no longer on the brink of extinction, but is also far from fully recovered throughout its original range. After decades on the list of endangered species, in 2011, protections for gray wolves were removed across the Western Great Lakes region. The tragic result was the immediate implementation of brutal killing seasons by several states, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,500 wolves.