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200 Business Leaders Sign Letter Supporting Wolves

By Amanda Milster

Over the past few months we have seen conservationists, scientists, and others calling for continued the protection of wolves. Now, over 200 business leaders have added their voices by signing a letter addressed to Secretary Jewell, Director of the USFWS Dan Ashe, and President Obama asking them not to abandon gray wolves.  This letter was submitted as part of the public comment period on December 17.

We know that wolves are vital for healthy ecosystems and are an iconic American symbol. However, they also have a major impact on tourism and outdoor recreation. After wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, tourists hoping to spot a pack boosted revenues in local communities by $10 million annually. The letter also focuses on the importance of a well-protected environment, including predator species, for the long-term health of businesses and industries. So often we hear of attacks on the Endangered Species Act in the name of economic development. However, it is important that the administration listens to the voices of business, and considers the importance of protecting wildlife for the $646 billion in annual revenues and 6.1 million employees of the outdoor recreation industry.

While several outdoor recreation companies were represented in the letter, many other industries also showed support. As wolves improve the health of prey populations, balance is restored to natural habitats. In some areas the presence of wolves has led to increased streamside vegetation, which reduces soil erosion and improves water quality. Several breweries, recognizing the importance of clean water for their business, also added their names to the letter. Hospitality and travel businesses also recognized the importance of wolves for tourism.

It is clear to the vast majority of Americans that we need to keep wolves in our natural landscape. A symbol of freedom and of our national heritage, they also serve an important ecological role and maintain natural balance. With over a million comments demonstrating the importance that endangered species protection has for the livelihood of so many Americans, how can the administration turn its back on gray wolves?

As more voices continue to stand up for wolves, Secretary Jewell is being faced with a clear message. The eyes of the country are watching to see if the administration will do its duty or if it will abandon science and follow politics instead.

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