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Feds delist gray wolf

by Brandon RobertsWestern News
| January 14, 2009 11:00 PM

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that the gray wolf will be delisted and states will assume management duties.

“After addressing recent concerns … (FWS) is removing the wolves of the Western Great Lakes population and northern Rocky Mountains from the federal list of threatened and endangered species,” said Lynn Scarlett, FWS deputy secretary.

“We continue to believe that management of recovered wolf population can best be conducted by state Fish, Wildlife and Parks,” Scarlett said. “State wildlife agencies have the expertise and presence on the ground to manage wolves according to the best scientific principles as well as to work with landowners to successfully resolve conflicts.”

Joe Maurier, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said in a press release that most Montanans agree that the wolf population is firmly established and secure.

“Montanans have been patient and cooperative during the recovery process and with recent court rulings,” Maurier said. “We’re pleased Montana’s been recognized for its efforts and can now move forward with the full transition to state-led wolf management.”

Lyle Laverty, FWS assistant secretary, said wolves are recovered.

“There are more wolves in more places and there are fewer problems than ever anticipated,” he said.

Ed Bangs, Gray Wolf recovery coordinator with FWS, said, “There are more problems, but not nearly the problems we had predicted back in 1994. The rate of problem has been minimized.”

Ed Jonas, rancher and owner of Blacktail Mountain Ranch in Rollins, lost two cows earlier this fall to the Hog Heaven pack, which was eventually eradicated. He said that on the contrary to Bangs’s remarks, predadation is continually escalating and the delisting is a victory for the “little guy.”

“The ranchers who have had predadation losses and those in fear of it, this will renew their faith in our government for bringing this issue back in balance,” Jonas said.

In a press release issued by Montana FWP on Wednesday, livestock loss was addressed.

“With delisting, the flexibility to protect livestock and domestic dogs is provided in Montana law,” Maurier said. “Similar to lions and black bears, a wolf seen actively biting, wounding, chasing, harassing, or attacking livestock or domestic dogs could be killed. Such incidents must be reported to FWP in 72 hours.”

Maurier said wolves could only be purposely killed legally during an official hunting season; when a wolf is killing, attacking or harassing livestock; and to protect human life.

The delisting will take place 30 days from publication of the Federal Register notice, which is expected to be sent out on Jan. 27.

States to assume management of the gray wolf include Montana, Idaho, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Not included on this list was Wyoming, which FWS representatives said did not have proper state regulatory acts in place to comply with the delisting criteria.

States will be responsible for annual mandatory monitoring reports for a minimum of five years.

“The purpose of the monitoring is to ensure the protection so wolves don’t fall back into a status under the minimum recovery number,” Scarlett said.

In 1974, the wolf was listed on the Endangered Species Act and fell under federal control when wolf populations were almost fully decimated in the United States.

“(Wolves) no longer meet the criteria to be covered under the (ESA). Real wolves create real issues that need real solutions,” said Rowan Gould, acting director FWS. “Transitioning into full state and tribal management is the right thing to do at this time.”