States Will Regulate Gray Wolves
The US Fish and Wildlife Service is publishing a final rule reinstating the terms of a 2009 rule removing gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
Gray wolves will remain listed under the Endangered Species Act in Wyoming, though the Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Wyoming officials on a plan that would allow gray wolves in that state to also be removed from the list. The final rule will be effective immediately upon publication, which is May 5, 2011.
The states and the FWS will monitor wolf populations in the Northern Rockies for at least 5 years to insure “robust” population numbers.
Montana’s US Senator Jon Tester and US Congressman Denny Rehberg applauded the delisting move, but Rehberg was cautious.
Tester and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson included the delisting provision in the 2011 federal funding bill, which passed Congress last month.
The Department of the Interior also is publishing a proposed rule to remove gray wolves from the ESA in the Western Great Lakes area – including Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin and parts of adjoining states. Acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould said, “The gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes are recovered and no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.” Public hearings and public comment will be taken on that proposal until June 5th.
Defenders of Wildlife president Rodger Schlickeisen was critical of the ruling, saying, “…the action…sets a terrible precedent for side-stepping America’s bedrock environmental laws…” He said conservationists and the Fish and Wildlife Service must “rigorously monitor wolf populations.”