The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) extended the public comment period until October 28 on two proposed rules to remove the gray wolf from the List of Threatened and Endangered species.
“It is imperative that we as conservationists, outdoorsmen and women let our government know that wolves are no longer threatened or endangered. They are clearly recovered and need to be delisted,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “Wolves surpassed minimum recovery objectives more than a decade ago in the Northern Rockies, thrive in the Great Lakes, and number well into the thousands in Canada and Alaska.”
The proposals also maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf.
A FWS comprehensive review determined that the current listing for gray wolf, developed 35 years ago, erroneously included large geographical areas outside the species’ historical range. In addition, the review found that the current gray wolf listing does not reasonably represent the range of the only remaining population of wolves in the lower 48 states and Mexico that requires the protections of the Endangered Species Act – the Mexican wolf population in the Southwest.
“There are some who claim wolves remain threatened if they do not occupy their entire native range. That does not mean they are endangered. The best available scientific research shows the gray wolf is recovered well beyond the point that it needs to be delisted. There are many such species, like elk, that do not cover their historic range. That does not mean they are endangered,” added Allen.
Principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, the only one of its kind and most successful in the world, indicate that wildlife belongs to all Americans and that they need to be managed in a way that their populations will be sustained forever.
“State agencies are charged with the management of elk, deer, bears, lions and other species. We maintain that the wolf is no different,” said Allen. “It should be state agencies – not the federal government – that oversee the management of wolves.”
The proposals come after a comprehensive review confirmed the successful recovery of wolves in the western Great Lakes states and Northern Rockies following management actions undertaken by federal, state and local partners following the wolf’s listing under the Endangered Species Act more than three decades ago.
FWS also announced a series of public hearings to ensure all stakeholders have an opportunity to comment. The first public hearing is September 30 in Washington, DC followed closely by hearings in Sacramento, CA, on October 2, and Albuquerque, NM, on October 4. The Albuquerque hearing will be a combined hearing on the gray wolf delisting proposal and the proposal to revise the existing nonessential experimental population designation of the Mexican wolf.
“I encourage RMEF members, other sportsmen and women, and all those who value our wildlife and beautiful landscapes to let the federal government know where we stand,” said Allen.
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Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation