The U.S. wolf population has been unfairly targeted and is in need of more federal protection by the Biden administration, according to a top wildlife expert.

In an op-ed in The Hill, Peter Kareiva, who serves as the CEO and president of the Aquarium of Pacific, hailed that Biden administration's retooling of the Endangered Species Act after the Trump administration dismantled many parts of it. But according to Kareiva, more needs to be immediately done to save gray wolves since the animals had been stripped of protection.

"These rule changes will provide much-needed protections for endangered species throughout the United States. However, these changes will take years to make it through the necessary rulemaking processes — and gray wolves need help now," the op-ed read.

Kareiva noted that some states have groups that have put bounties on wolves, therefore encouraging the mass killings of wolves, which Kareiva says are not a threat to humans. The killings of gray wolves have continued into 2021 due to no federal protections.

"With no federal protections in place, at the end of February, Wisconsin hunters killed over 200 wolves in just under 60 hours. That was just the beginning of nationwide senseless persecution of wolves. Montana and Idaho recently passed legislation that sanctions the slaughter of up to 90% of the states’ gray wolf populations, with the killing starting July 1," Kareiva wrote in the op-ed.

One Idaho state senator said in April that there were 1,556 wolves roaming the state. The New York Times reported that an Idaho bill signed in April gave the state’s Wolf Control Fund an additional $190,000 to hire contractors to kill wolves, which was on top of the $400,000 previously allocated to killing wolves in the state.

A week before President Biden took office, Earthjustice posted on its official website that six environmental groups filed suit "against the Trump administration’s removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves across most of the lower 48 states."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that as of 2017 there are 18,000 wolves in the U.S., with about two-thirds of them in Alaska.

An International Business Times staff reporter contributed to this report.

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