Volume 6, Number 47 - February 15, 2007
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Wolf delisting would exclude parts of Sublette County
Landowners in the northern portion of Sublette County may soon be in the odd position of being in an area where wolves remain federally protected as a “non-essential, experimental” population, while wolves in the remainder of the county would be delisted and removed from federal protection.
That scenario is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing in its delisting rule, formally published late last week. Wolves in most of Wyoming would be removed from federal protections, but since FWS doesn’t approve of Wyoming’s wolf management plan, portions of the Greater Yellowstone region would not have federal protections eased.
FWS has proposed delisting to occur in a “distinct population segment” area involving the entire states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah. Wolves in all these areas would be removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, with the exception for western Wyoming outside the national parks.
The delisting rule stated: “Therefore, if Wyoming fails to modify its management regime to adequately conserve wolves, we will keep a significant portion of the range in the Wyoming portion of the Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment because there are not adequate regulatory mechanisms in that area. In this situation, wolves in the significant portion of the range in northwestern Wyoming, outside the national parks, will retain their nonessential experimental status under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. We will remove the remainder of the NRM DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species.”
If Wyoming had changed its state law and management plan as FWS had wanted, the agency would have proposed the entire region for delisting. The rule noted: “ However, if Wyoming has not taken these steps by the date that a final decision is to be made, we have carefully considered the requirements of the Act and the record before us and concluded that an alternative approach may be in order. Specifically, it would then be our intention instead to reclassify the portions of the DPS in the States of Idaho and Montana, Washington, Oregon, and Utah as ‘not listed.’ We would also reclassify the portion of Wyoming that is not a significant portion of the range and the portion that is in the national parks in Wyoming as ‘not listed.’ The DPS would no longer exist. The significant portion of the range that exists outside the national parks within the State of Wyoming would continue to be listed as ‘nonessential experimental’ based on the biologically significant nature of that portion of the species’ range and the continuing unacceptable level of threats that occur under the state’s current statute and management plan.”
But Sublette County wouldn’t be alone in this odd situation. According to the proposal, the area where wolves would remain listed includes the area of northwestern Wyoming from the junction of U.S. Highway 120 and the Wyoming/Montana State line; running southerly along Wyoming Highway 120 to the Greybull River; southwesterly up said river to the Wood River; running southwesterly up said river to the U.S. Forest Service boundary; following the U.S. Forest Service boundary southerly to the northern boundary of the Wind River Indian Reservation; following the Reservation boundary westerly, then southerly across U.S. Highway 26/287 to the Continental Divide; following the Continental Divide southeasterly to Middle Fork of Boulder Creek; following the Middle Fork of Boulder Creek and then Boulder Creek westerly to the U.S. Forest Service boundary; following the U.S. Forest Service boundary northwesterly to its intersection with U.S. Highway 189/191; following U.S. Highway 189/91 northwesterly to the intersection with Wyoming Highway 22 in the town of Jackson; following Wyoming state highway 22 westerly to the Wyoming/Idaho State line.
FWS is accepting public comments on the delisting proposal. Western Wyoming livestock producers are now left to ponder which would be better:
• living in an area where wolves are listed as predators and can be shot on sight, but with no compensation for livestock losses, and no agency responsibility to respond to problem wolves; or
• lobby for an expanded “non-essential experimental” area under the delisting rule, so that wolves would be managed by the federal government, with a limited compensation program and FWS granted the responsibility to resolve livestock predation problems.
For more information, read the final rule, which is posted at: www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf.
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