U.S. Fish & Wildlife Proposes To Return Management & Protection Of Gray Wolves To State Officials
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is proposing to return management and protection of gray wolves to state wildlife professionals.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species.
According to officials, the proposal comes after a comprehensive review confirmed its successful recovery following management actions undertaken by federal, state and local partners following the wolf’s listing under the Endangered Species Act over three decades ago.
The Service is also proposing to maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf in the Southwest, where it remains endangered.
Under the proposal, state wildlife management agency professionals would resume responsibility for management and protection of gray wolves in states where wolves occur.
The Service will open a 90-day comment period on both proposals seeking additional scientific, commercial and technical information from the public and other interested parties.
According to officials, the comment period will end upon publication of the proposed rules in the Federal Register. Relevant information received during this comment period will be reviewed and addressed in the Service’s final determination on these proposals, which will be made in 2014.
The Service must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, within 45 days of the publication in the Federal Register. Information on how to provide comments will be made available in the Federal Register notices and on the Service’s wolf information page at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.
The Service’s comprehensive review determined that the current listing for gray wolf, which was developed 35 years ago, erroneously included large geographical areas outside the species’ historical range.
Gray wolves were extirpated from most of the Lower 48 states by the middle of the 20th century, with the exception of northern Minnesota and Isle Royale in Michigan. Subsequently, wolves from Canada occasionally dispersed south and successfully began recolonizing northwest Montana in 1986. In 1995 and 1996, 66 wolves from southwestern Canada were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho.
In 2002 the Northern Rocky Mountain population exceeded the minimum recovery goals of 300 wolves for a third straight year, and they were successfully delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains in 2012 and Western Great Lakes in 2011. Today, there are at least 6,100 gray wolves in the contiguous United States, with a current estimate of 1,674 in the Northern Rocky Mountains and 4,432 in the Western Great Lakes.
Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service