Ed Bangs worked on wolf recovery for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 1988, through the reintroduction in the mid-1990s, until he retired last month, and he sat down with Ray Ring, High Country News editor, to talk about his experiences. A perspective.
Ed Bangs has long been a lightning rod for the controversy around
the return of wolves to the U.S. Northern Rockies. Based in Helena,
Mont., he led the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf-recovery effort
from 1988, when the region had only a few naturally occurring
wolves, through the reintroduction of Canadian wolves in 1995 and
'96, until his retirement in June 2011. During those years, thenumber
of wolves in the region increased to more than 1,700. A plethora of
lawsuits, alarmist headlines and political maneuvers culminated
with Congress removing most of the region's wolves from the
Endangered Species List (an action also being challengedby lawsuits)
just as Bangs retired.
Throughout the wolf battles, people on all sides of the issue respected
Bangs for his unusual frankness and good humor. HCN's senior editor,
Ray Ring, talked with the 60-year-old biologist on July 1 about his
lifelong interest in wildlife and his reflections on wolves and human
society in general. Here are some excerpts:
HCN: While you ran the wolf program for so long, you probably
had personal highlights?