In Danger of Endangerment

Black and white-furred gray wolves
Black and white-furred gray wolves Wiki Commons

For the first time in three decades, it's hunting season for wolves. According to US Fish and Wildlife Service director H. Dale Hall, the wolves have successfully repopulated (so let's shoot 'em up!). Their removal from the endangered list was proposed last month.  It can also be supposed that it's hunting season for American eels, which were also removed from the endangered list after a petition was raised in 2004 by a janitor who complained of too many eels getting stuck in a local dam.

This is all good news for wolves and eels and repopulation/conservation efforts on the whole (and, c'mon, who isn't looking forward to the day that the woeful panda is so abundant that we can start gobbling them up without feeling guilty?). But these cases raise questions about endangerment. As in, what's the way to label a species as in danger of being endangered? And how are X number of wolves endangered whereas X+1 is fine? And why not ask the full-blown heretic's question: is it maybe perhaps kinda sorta almost too easy for bureaucrats to throw around phrases like "endangered" or "repopulated" or, say, "extinct"?

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