FWS explores wolf relisting
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is initiating a status review of gray wolf following the review completion of two petitions filed to relist the species in the western U.S. as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“The FWS finds the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S.,” states an agency press release.
Petitions prompting action
On June 1, the FWS received a petition to list the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment – consisting of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and a small portion of north-central Utah – as threatened or endangered under the ESA. A second petition, received July 29, adds California, Colorado, Nevada and northern Arizona.
Petitions were submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and the Sierra Club.
“The Service finds the petitioners present substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S.,” FWS says. “The Service also finds new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat. Therefore, the FWS finds gray wolves in the western U.S. may warrant listing.”
According to the 90-day finding by the FWS, legislation enacted in Idaho and Montana is intended to increase take and reduce wolf populations in each state. More specifically, the legislation expands legal methods of lethal control, extends the trapping season and increases bag limits for successful hunters and trappers.
The FWS’s next step will include an in-depth analysis to arrive at a 12-month finding on whether listing gray wolves is warranted. The public can submit relevant information and comments to inform the in-depth status review upon publication in the Federal Register starting on Sept. 17.
Confidence in current management
Following the announcement of the status review, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Public Lands Council (PLC) share they are confident the review will confirm gray wolves are not threatened or endangered, as conservation groups, scientists and ranchers in western states know.
“We’re disappointed to see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service move forward with a 12-month status review for the gray wolves in the western United States,” said NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “It is unacceptable for the Service to continue to be held hostage by groups who want nothing more than to turn the Endangered Species Act into a permanent management tool.”
Glover continued, “We are confident the review will confirm what we’ve known to be true for years: Gray wolves are recovered and no longer need or meet the requirements for listing under the Endangered Species Act. It is appropriate for FWS to continue to monitor state management of these recovered populations, but we urge them to dedicate resources to species that are truly imperiled.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.