I was dismayed to learn last week that the Department of the Interior plans to drop endangered species protections for the still-recovering gray wolf population in the lower 48 states, with the exception of about 75 wild Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.

Individual states will now decide the fate of wolves within their borders. The poor animals will once again be the target of trophy hunters and trappers.

This new action is open for public comment during the next 90 days and the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, N.Y., is leading the way to make sure Congress and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell know that their constituents and many others oppose the government plan that would kill wolves.

To lodge an official comment, visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service site and find out how to make your voice heard. Also contact your congressman and senator and ask them to retain Endangered Species Act for gray wolves in areas where they have only begun to recover, including the Pacific Northwest, California, southern Rocky Mountains and the Northeast. The Humane Society of the United States maintains that there are only 6,000 gray wolves left in the contiguous United States today.

Wolves are magnificent creatures, and the WCC has done an admirable job of educating people about them. This summer it is holding some fabulous events, which are great fun for children. "Sleeping with Wolves" offers families an opportunity to rent tents and sleep near the wolf enclosures in front of a bonfire. It may not be Yellowstone, but being surrounded by the 25 wolves at the WCC and hearing them howl is a once-in-a-life-time experience. There are also special summer camps for children, as well.

For a really unique experience, one can sign up for a yoga class in the wolf enclosure, without the wolves, and learn more about them at the end of the class.

Maggie Howell, director of the Wolf Conservation Center, does an outstanding job making sure that the education programs raise awareness about issues facing wolves.

One of my favorite WCC activities is its Ambassador Wolf program. Ambassador wolves are almost domesticated and travel to schools and other community activities to introduce people to wolves. There is nothing quite like coming face to face with a wolf.

So whether it's camping or yoga, sign up to do it with wolves. Let your voice be heard that you want wolves to be protected, not hunted down for sport.

For more information on programs at the WCC, visit www.nywolf.org and consider making a small donation so it can continue its work on behalf of wolves.

Cathy Kangas is a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. She can be reached at cathy@praibeauty.com.

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