Wolf delisting proposed for most of Wyoming
FWS still wants wolves protected in NW Wyoming
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 13, 2007
(Pinedale, Wyoming) – Wolves will remain federally protected as a “non-essential, experimental” population in a small portion of northwestern Wyoming, while wolves in the remainder of the state will be delisted and removed from federal protection, under a federal plan unveiled last week.
That scenario is what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed in its wolf delisting rule, formally published late last week. Wolves in most of Wyoming would be removed from federal protections, but since FWS and the State of Wyoming failed to reach agreement on the state’s wolf management plan, portions of the Greater Yellowstone region would not have federal protections eased.
Under the proposal, although wolves in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks would be officially “delisted,” wolves on adjacent national forests and private property would remain classified as “non-essential, experimental” pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.
FWS has proposed delisting to occur in a “distinct population segment” area involving the entire states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, parts of Oregon, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah. Wolves in all these areas would be removed from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife, with the exception for northwestern Wyoming outside the national parks.
The delisting rule stated that if Wyoming “fails to modify its management regime to adequately conserve wolves, we will keep a significant portion of the range in the Wyoming portion of the Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment because there are not adequate regulatory mechanisms in that area. In this situation, wolves in the significant portion of the range in northwestern Wyoming, outside the national parks, will retain their nonessential experimental status under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act. We will remove the remainder of the NRM DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species.”
If Wyoming were to change its state law and management plan as FWS wants prior to the time the proposed rule becomes final, FWS would re-open the rule to propose the entire region for delisting.
The rule noted: "However, if Wyoming has not taken these steps by the date that a final decision is to be made … the significant portion of the range that exists outside the national parks within the State of Wyoming would continue to be listed as ‘nonessential experimental’ based on the biologically significant nature of that portion of the species’ range and the continuing unacceptable level of threats that occur under the state’s current statute and management plan.”
According to the proposal, the area where wolves would remain listed includes the area of northwestern Wyoming from the junction of U.S. Highway 120 and the Wyoming/Montana State line; running southerly along State Highway 120 to the Greybull River; southwesterly up said river to the Wood River; running southwesterly up said river to the U.S. Forest Service boundary; following the U.S. Forest Service boundary southerly to the northern boundary of the Wind River Indian Reservation; following the Reservation boundary westerly, then southerly across U.S. Highway 26/287 to the Continental Divide; following the Continental Divide southeasterly to Middle Fork of Boulder Creek; following the Middle Fork of Boulder Creek and then Boulder Creek westerly to the U.S. Forest Service boundary; following the U.S. Forest Service boundary northwesterly to its intersection with U.S. Highway 189/191; following U.S. Highway 189/91 northwesterly to the intersection with Wyoming state highway 22 in the town of Jackson; following Wyoming Highway 22 westerly to the Wyoming/Idaho State line.
FWS is accepting public comments on the delisting proposal. Western Wyoming livestock producers are now left to ponder which would be better:
• living in an area where wolves are listed as predators and can be shot on sight, but with no compensation for livestock losses, and no agency responsibility to respond to problem wolves; or
• lobby for an expanded “non-essential experimental” area under the delisting rule, so that wolves would be managed by the federal government, with a limited compensation program and FWS granted the responsibility to resolve livestock predation problems.
For more information, read the final rule, which is posted at: www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf.