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Gray wolf removal from Endangered Species Act protection affirmed

March 6, 2009 |  8:53 pm

A gray wolf in the wild.

The decision to remove some gray wolf populations from protection under the Endangered Species Act will proceed as originally announced in January.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar stated today that he will uphold the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolf populations in the northern Rockies and western Great Lakes states of Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Utah and Wisconsin, plus portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

"The recovery of the gray wolf throughout significant portions of its historic range is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act," Salazar said in a press release issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior. "The successful recovery of this species is a stunning example of how the Act can work to keep imperiled animals from sliding into extinction."

Wolves in Wyoming will continue to be protected under the act, due to an inadequate wolf management plan, as will wolves in other parts of the country, including the Southwest.

This delisting will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and will mean that wolf management will become a job for state and tribal wildlife agencies instead of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

However, 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.

While some state Fish and Game departments and outdoor organizations such as the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation applaud the decision to move ahead with the delisting, environmental groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity vehemently oppose it and are threatening lawsuits to overturn the plan.

--Kelly Burgess

Photo: A gray wolf in the wild. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service