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For years, there was barely any sighting of gray wolves in the continental U.S. as the gray wolf population was driven to near extinction by overhunting and trapping. Only within the last 20 years has the gray wolf population begun to rebound.

Unfortunately, the gray wolf’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) success story was soon twisted into a reason to remove their ESA protection in 2011, which then allowed states to hold wolf hunts yet again – the very same activity that drove this species to the brink of extinction decades ago. Where’s the logic in that?

Within the last three years, six states have opened hunting seasons on wolves including Michigan, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“As of January this year, hunters and trappers have killed 2,567 grey wolves in the US’s lower 48 states since 2011,” The Guardian reports.

In Iowa, however, a wolf hunt was never on the horizon as the gray wolf still remains protected. What’s more, no wolf has been seen in the state since 1925. Yet this changed back in February of this year when a hunter in Buchanan County shot an animal he thought was a coyote.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opened an investigation into the killing to “determine the origins of the animal,” The Huffington Post reports.

The DNA results have only recently come back and revealed that the animal was in fact a gray wolf – the first one in Iowa after 89 years.

According to The Guardian, experts “believe the wolf likely travelled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota.”

Since the hunter has been corporative with the DNR and even turned the dead animal in, no charges will be brought against him.

While the death of this one wolf is a tragedy, a larger one is at hand – wolf hunting seasons are expected to continue in Michigan, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

These hunt seasons are a huge slap in the face to conservationists and the entire gray wolf species as it took years and years of hard work to restore the U.S. gray wolf population to a size that would benefit their ecosystems. Why restore such an important keystone species just to gun them down again?

Image source: dalliedee/Flickr