Gray wolves removed from Endangered Species Act protection
Some gray wolf populations across the continental United States are going to be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act, said Lynn Scarlett, deputy secretary of the Department of the Interior.
This includes wolf populations in Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Utah and Wisconsin. But wolves in Wyoming will continue to be protected under the act because of an inadequate wolf management plan in the state.
"Wolves have recovered in the Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountains because of the hard work, cooperation and flexibility shown by states, tribes, conservation groups, federal agencies and citizens of both regions," Scarlett said. "We can all be proud of our various roles in saving this icon of the American wilderness."
This delisting, which will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register next week, means that wolf management will become a job for state and tribal wildlife agencies instead of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We believe this is a major success story for conservation," Scarlett said Wednesday during a teleconference. "We've laid the groundwork for recovery to continue far into the future."
Fish and Wildlife Service officials acknowledged that incoming Obama administration appointees could reverse the delisting decision if they wished, but believe that the science backs up their stand that now is the right time for this. "The bottom line is wolves are fully recovered, and they should be delisted," said Ed Bangs, federal gray wolf recovery coordinator. "It's the right time and the right thing to do."
The Fish and Wildlife Service will monitor the delisted wolf populations for a minimum of five years to ensure that they continue to sustain their recovery. At the end of that time, they will decide if relisting, continued monitoring or ending service monitoring is appropriate.
Photo: A gray wolf in the wild.
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service