The next three months will bring the wolf debate to a boil.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to delist Rocky Mountain wolves in late March. The decision should mark the the end of one major conservation success story and the beginning of a new chapter in wildlife management for Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. But instead, it will trigger the latest in a long history of polarized activism over a species treated more as an icon than an animal.
Groups on both sides of the issue don't like where wolf management is heading. It's relatively easy to raise funds from people casually involved from both sides of the debate, both wolf lovers and hunters.
Yet just as two decades of big wildfires have moved the American press beyond the story of the brave firefighters to the complexities of forest ecology, coverage of the wolf story has evolved. The New York Times report on wolves today is an example of the nuanced reporting that recognizes how the biological success of wolves has affected the social and political views.
Sophisticated reporting won't resolves the issues but it should make the debate better.