In the 1950s government approved bounty hunting almost eliminated the entire wolf population until 1974 when officials had a change of heart and placed the animal under protection. Although the wolves have been released from government protection, they will still be monitored for the next five years. If there is a drop in population the federal government can place the wolf back on the list on an emergency basis.
Fierce arguments and countless legal challenges have occurred during the process to remove the wolf from the endangered list. Critics believe that the management plan is one of several areas that need revision. One major argument surrounding the release of the animal is that the wolf can now be hunted in most states. To environmentalists this seems like a counteraction of the decades of efforts to replenish the rare animal species.