March 9th, 2009

Hunting News — Gray Wolves Removed from Endangered List in Some Regions

Gray Wolf De-ListingInterior Secretary Ken Salazar, affirming a decision of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has removed the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, this ONLY applies to Idaho, Montana, the Western Great Lakes, and some (but not all) areas of Washington, Oregon, and Utah. Wolves in other parts of the 48 states, including the Southwest states, remain endangered and are not affected by Salazar’s ruling. Wolf hunters should check carefully to ensure that the area(s) where they intend to hunt are not subject to ESA controls. Wolves in Wyoming remain specifically protected.

Hunters are advised to wait before planning a hunt. Salazar’s ruling could be stalled by litigation from environmental groups. The Sierra Club has announced: “Aggressive wolf-killing practices, coupled with genetic isolation and plans to institute hunts in Idaho and Montana, could push wolf numbers dangerously low and reverse decades of recovery work. The Sierra Club, along with other conservation groups, plans to challenge the wolf delisting decision in court.”

Praise for Interior Secretary’s Decision
Safari Club International President Merle Shepard hailed the announcement, saying “This decision is the right one and we commend Secretary Salazar for reaching it so quickly. Delisting the gray wolf came about as a result of years of effort involving the states, tribes, landowners, academic researchers, sportsmen and other conservation groups, the Canadian government and many other partners.”

In making the announcement, Secretary Salazar reviewed the numbers behind the decision. “When it was listed as endangered in 1974, the wolf had almost disappeared from the continental United States. Today, we have more than 5,500 wolves, including more than 1,600 in the Rockies,” Salazar said. Gray wolves were previously listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota where they were listed as threatened. The USFWS oversees three separate recovery programs for the gray wolf; each has its own recovery plan and recovery goals based on the unique characteristics of wolf populations in each geographic area.

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