Wolf Hysteria Rules The Day In New Hampshire

(05/07/1999) - Defenders of Wildlife denounced the New Hampshire Senate today for voting to prohibit wolf reintroduction in the Live Free or Die state, working to cut off any further discussion of the issue. Reacting to last year’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) announcement of an impending plan to study potential wolf restoration in the northeast’s Great North Woods, the state Senate passed HB240 by a fourteen-to-nine vote. While the bill allows for natural recovery, it bans any human assistance in returning wolves back to New Hampshire habitat.

Superstitions about wolves are persistent, said Defenders of Wildlife’s Associate Director of Species Conservation Nina Fascione. But the New Hampshire Senate should read scientific literature and leave fairy tales to children. When a group of legislators pushes through a bill prohibiting species restoration before anyone even conducts a feasibility study, we are obviously dealing with some deep-rooted fears and misconceptions that need to be addressed. To add insult to injury, the legislators cut off debate and are muzzling everyone’s right to examine the issue. Clearly the need for education about wolves is as great as ever.

FWS has not formally proposed wolf reintroduction for New England but made only a preliminary announcement that it may look into the potential for wolf recovery there. FWS is expected to release a Federal Register notice in June discussing wolf reclassification and future recovery plans throughout the country, including New England. If the federal government should decide to reintroduce wolves in New Hampshire, the federal law could legally supersede the state law.

Ironically, New Hampshire isn’t even targeted for wolf reintroduction, Fascione says. Maine and New York contain the core of potential wolf habitat, while New Hampshire is only on the periphery. This bill does nothing but show how hysterical people can get over the subject of wolves. The bill isn’t just premature. It’s completely unnecessary and, frankly, absurd. People should call Governor Jean Shaheen’s office and ask her to veto this piece of legislation.

For more than 50 years, Defenders of Wildlife has worked to protect and conserve wolves and other wildlife. The conservation organization is currently funding a $115,000 feasibility study of wolf restoration in New York and would like to see a similar study in New England.

Wolves roamed the Northeast into the last century, until they were eliminated by persistent anti-wolf campaigns and the decimation of timberlands. Successful forest regeneration in the past 100 years has created suitable wolf habitat again in the region, and scientists have begun to study the possibility of restoring wolves to the ecosystem there.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270