From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 45 - February 1, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wolf delisting proposed

by Cat Urbigkit

Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett announced Monday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing the Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves from the federal list of threatened and endangered species and proposed removing the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves from the list. The two separate actions are being taken in recognition of the success of gray wolf recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act.

The minimum recovery goal for wolves in the Northern Rockies is 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 wolves for three consecutive years. A goal that was attained in 2002 and has been exceeded every year since. FWS believes that with approved state management plans in place in Montana and Idaho, threats to the wolf population will have been reduced or eliminated in those states. The Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and a small part of north-central Utah.

While FWS has approved wolf management plans in Montana and Idaho, it has determined that Wyoming’s state law and wolf management plan are not sufficient to conserve Wyoming’s portion of a recovered Northern Rockies wolf population.

FWS Director H. Dale Hall said if Wyoming’s plan is not approved before the FWS decides a final action on this proposal, the agency would continue to protect wolves under the ESA in the significant portion of their range in northwest Wyoming. This excludes the national parks, which have adequate regulatory mechanisms to conserve wolves.

Hall added that FWS could move forward to remove the remainder of the DPS in Montana and Idaho and portions of Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Utah from the list of threatened and endangered species.

Governor Dave Freudenthal responded to the FWS’s announcement with the following statement: “Regarding the Fish and Wildlife Service’s hopes to reach some agreement with Wyoming to alter our existing plan, I remain concerned about the amount of private land that would be included in the proposed trophy game area, as well as the definition and number of wolves that would compose a breeding pair. The ultimate question, though, is whether or not Wyoming will be given the flexibility to manage wolves that are causing an unacceptable impact on our elk and moose populations.”

Freudenthal took a dig at the possibility of delisting without Wyoming by his statement: “I am delighted by the potential for progress in Montana and Idaho, although it seems to be of limited value for wildlife. I am also pleased that Fish and Wildlife believes the populations in Idaho, Montana and Yellowstone National Park are sufficient for delisting without the other Wyoming packs. This raises the interesting question of whether any packs outside Yellowstone in Wyoming are even necessary.”

FWS will hold a series of public meetings and hearings in six states regarding the delisting proposal. The meetings and hearings are intended to provide information about the proposal, answer citizens’ questions and receive formal testimony for the record.  Public meetings and hearings are scheduled in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington on the proposal to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves. In each location, the public meetings will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the public hearings will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A brief presentation on FWS’s proposal will be given during the public meetings at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and will be followed by a question-and-answer period. During the public hearing, formal oral testimony will be accepted. Written comments also will be accepted at the public meeting and the hearing. The meetings and hearings nearest western Wyoming are: 

Feb. 27 at Holiday Inn Cheyenne, 204 West Fox Farm Road, Cheyenne,

Feb. 28 at Plaza Hotel, 122 West South Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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