On Wednesday morning, the Obama administration announced it is lifting endangered species act protections for 5,500 gray wolves in eight states in the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes. That includes around 1,300 wolves in the Northern Rockies, according to the Associated Press.
“We are implementing the recent legislation that directs the delisting of the gray wolf in most of the Northern Rocky Mountains,” said Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes Wednesday. “As with other delisted species, we will be applying the Endangered Species Act’s post-delisting monitoring requirements to ensure that wolf populations remain robust, while under state wildlife management.”
Mead said he was pleased with the announcement that wolves would be pulled from the list in several other western states and said he looks forward to when Wyoming controls wolves.
“I appreciate that Secretary Salazar would restate his commitment to working with Wyoming to get wolves taken off the Endangered Species List here,” Mead said in a news release. “I am hopeful that we are close to an agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service to move a proposal to Congress. I continue to believe that wolves should be delisted and a proposal should move through Congress, preventing litigation. Otherwise, Wyoming loses as wolf numbers grow and more big game and livestock are killed.”
A bill was in the halls of Congress to delist wolves across the country.
“That bill is still out there,” said Chris Colligan, Greater Yellowstone Coalition wildlife advocate.
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., will continue pursuing wolf delisting in Wyoming, but Elly Pickett, his press secretary, said she was not sure that would include sponsoring more delisting legislation at this time.
Wyoming will be better off when it manages wolves in the state, Pickett said.
Enzi will continue to support Mead’s efforts to reach an agreement to delist wolves in Wyoming.
Although the likelihood of Congress delisting wolves in Wyoming is not high, it is worth pursuing, said Renny MacKay, Mead’s communications director.
No one knows when such a bill would be passed in Congress, but the sooner the better, he said.
There has been discussion between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state to adjust the predator zone along the southern boundary to allow Wyoming wolves safe passage to their Idaho peers. Those discussions are ongoing, MacKay said.
Wyoming must forgo a plan that permits wolves in most of the state to be shot on sight, said the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in a news release.
“Since wolves were restored to Greater Yellowstone and central Idaho’s wilds 16 years ago, Montana and Idaho have insisted they can manage them,” said Jeff Welsch, communications director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in Bozeman, Mont. “Now both will have the opportunity to show the nation they can ensure healthy, enduring populations for the long-term.”
“GYC will closely monitor state management,” Welsch said. “We will work with agencies and local stakeholders to make sure wolves are managed like other wildlife.”
The goal of the Endangered Species Act is to restore native wildlife on the brink of extinction, said the GYC.
“The wolf is an ecological and economical value,” the GYC said.
“Radical elements in all Western legislatures would wage war on wolves. It’s up to reasonable people to stay vigilant and ensure that states manage wolves responsibly.
“It’s also time to develop a reasonable plan in Wyoming that manages for a distribution and population of wolves that ensures their future,” the GYC statement read.