More than 230 scientists have signed a letter opposing plans to remove wolves in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho from Endangered Species Act protection.
The scientists said wolves in the three states still face threats because their numbers remain relatively small and because the wolf populations in the Yellowstone area, in central Idaho and in northwest Montana don’t intermingle.
“This recovery goal is not based on any biologically relevant information such as demographic or genetic data,” according to the letter sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf recovery coordinator Ed Bangs during a public comment period that ended Wednesday.
The letter criticized plans for maintaining at least 300 wolves and 30 breeding pairs across the three states.
About 1,300 wolves now roam in the area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that figure is more than four times the number of wolves needed to consider removing a species from federal protections.
Federal officials have said a delisting proposal could be finished by early next year, although legal challenges could drag out the process.