The Boone and Crockett Club applauds the Aug. 31, 2012, decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for returning management authority for the gray wolf to the State of Wyoming.

This decision is consistent with the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the 1980 and 1987 Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Recovery Plans. This delisting of the Wyoming wolf population from the lists of threatened and endangered species completes a decades-long project to restore the wolf to the Rocky Mountains that began in 1973. A large and growing wolf population now ranges in North America from the Rockies and the Great Lakes area north through Canada and Alaska.

The challenge of managing the gray wolf now enters a new stage in Wyoming, as it joins the neighboring states of Idaho and Montana in conducting a science-based program to control the rapid growth of wolf populations and the effects of this top predator on other wildlife populations, especially big game such as deer, elk and moose. Like Montana and Idaho and the Great Lakes states, Wyoming’s program includes regulated hunting and trapping of the gray wolf as a trophy game animal. Wyoming’s hunting season will begin Oct. 1, 2012.

As the first national wildlife conservation group in North America, Boone and Crockett Club welcomes the inclusion, at long last, of the gray wolf among the wildlife species managed scientifically by state wildlife biologists. The Club supports the public trust management of all wildlife including wolves, cougars, bears and other predators by state, provincial, territorial or tribal management authorities. The Club further supports the informed management of all ecosystems and their components, including top predators, and that such management must balance the needs of humans and wildlife.

Gray wolf populations in the northern Rocky Mountains achieved federal recovery goals around 2002 and continued growing. Today the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in a six-state area exceeds 1,774 wolves and 109 breeding pairs. Today in Wyoming the wolf population is more than 10 times the size of the recovery goal established in the 1987 Recovery Plan. Despite this overwhelming evidence during a 10-year period, FWS was prevented from following the law established by the Endangered Species Act and returning management authority to states by repeated lawsuits. The lawsuits exploited the required public process prescribed by the Endangered Species Act by which FWS makes delisting decisions to obscure the plain biological fact that the wolf population was growing without adequate scientific management oversight that by law can be provided only by state governments.

In 2011, Congress, in an unprecedented legislative action, was forced to intervene to reinstate a FWS delisting decision that applied to Montana and Idaho. This action left Wyoming without authority to manage wolves, and it bodes well for the wolf population there that now will have proper management control. The Boone and Crockett Club endorses the delisting decision of FWS and applauds their efforts to follow the spirit and letter of the law prescribed by the Endangered Species Act which they are mandated to enforce.

Logo courtesy Blue Heron Communications/Boone and Crockett Club

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