Wyoming welcomes Wolf Finding
Wyoming requests gray wolves be removed from T&E list for northern Rocky Mountains
October 23, 2005
Prompted by a petition from the state of Wyoming filed three months ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is beginning to reassess the inclusion of the gray wolf on the endangered species list, according to the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office. Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed an 89-page petition in July, requesting that the service designate the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves as a distinct population segment and concurrently remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species in that area.
According to a recent press release from the FWS, they have determined with a positive 90-day finding that the state’s petition presents substantial scientific information indicating that the delisting of the gray wolf may be warranted. FWS now must review the recovery status of the gray wolf to determine whether delisting is warranted. The final decision on the state’s petition to delist the gray wolf must be made no later than mid-July 2006.
"We can safely say that gray wolves in Wyoming are one step closer to being delisted," Governor Freudenthal said. "While that is tremendously good news, I’m only sorry that it has taken so long to get to this point and will take so much longer to reach a final decision. I know I speak for many of the state’s residents when I say we will eagerly await next year’s final decision. In the meantime, we continue to pursue our appeal of Judge Johnson’s decision."
In its most recent survey, the Fish and Wildlife Service counted 912 wolves in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Assuming wolf populations continue to grow at the same rate, these numbers would indicate between 990 and 1,000 wolves in the tri-state region by next summer.
Among the issues being reconsidered by FWS is whether Wyoming’s existing regulatory mechanisms can protect the gray wolf population within its borders if the wolf is delisted. The service will review this issue during the status review, which must be based upon the best scientific information available, now following the 90-day finding. If the service determines that delisting is warranted, they then must propose a rule to delist the wolf.
"Wyoming’s wolf management plan has been created to ensure adequate population levels that will keep the wolf off the endangered species list," said Wyoming Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland. "Our plan has undergone exhaustive internal review, professional scrutiny and public input, and we’re confident that it strikes the proper balance needed to protect wolves in northwestern Wyoming while also keeping conflicts between wolves and people and between wolves and livestock to a minimum."