Ignoring science yet again, Congress determines that wolves aren't endangered. As part of a budget negotiation.
Congress has never once determined whether a species should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. In the past that's been left up to, you know, experts. But that's just changed. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID) slipped a rider into this must-pass budget deal that effectively strips wolves of their protection under the ESA in Montana, Idaho, and parts of Washington, Oregon, and Utah.
In other words, Congress has, yet again, decided to insert its own legislative authority over that of the scientists (who Congress has entrusted to make these decisions), and over that of the courts.
As Andrew Wetzler writes on NRDC's Switchboard:
That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with this process...We ought to leave the the Endangered Species Act up to the scientists, who carry it out, and to the judiciary, who interpret its meaning.\n
So why do Tester and Simpson want wolves off the list? So they can kill them. In large numbers. The states' officials want wolves off the endangered species list so they can cull the populations through state-run wildlife "management" plans. These plans call for killing hundreds—possibly thousands—of wolves that are deemed to be a threat to ranchers' herds and the deer and elk that hunters love to shoot. In other words, it's the ranching and hunting lobbies that are making this happen.
Oh, and what do wolves have to do with the budget? Absolutely nothing, of course.