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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

Wolf Numbers across the Northern Rocky Mountains Hold Steady

In 2011 and 2012, we concluded that gray wolves were no longer in danger of extinction in the Northern Rocky Mountains and removed them from the Endangered Species List. At that point we handed the management reins over to the states, and both we and they have taken a lot of heat ever since. That is why I was so happy to see that in 2013 the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population held steady.

Gray wolf. Photo by Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf/USFWS

As of December 31, there were at least 78 breeding pairs and 1,691 wolves across the Northern Rocky Mountain area. That is a modest decline in pairs from 2012 and a very slight decline in total numbers, but when you consider the margin of error in trying to survey all wolves across this vast area, the wolf population hasn’t really changed a bit. The numbers are news to celebrate, especially with minimum management targets at the much-lower 45 breeding pairs and 450 wolves. 

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Gray Wolves are Recovered; Next Up, the Mexican Wolf

wolfWe are proposing to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico. Photo by Gary Kramer/USFWS

As many of you probably know, my dad had a great, 37-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and he describes the outfit as a collection of people who get things done -- doers.  Nowhere is that trait more proudly displayed than in our four decade effort to restore the gray wolf to the American landscape, bringing the species back from extirpation and exile from the contiguous United States.

I'm the 16th Director of the Service. It was the 10th, John Turner, a Wyoming rancher and outfitter, appointed by a Republican President, who signed the record of decision that set in motion this miraculous reintroduction and recovery. It's never been easy. We've had critics, fair and unfair. We've had great partners. Sometimes they have been one in the same. But this organization and its people have been constant. Steadfast. Committed. Professional. Determined. Now add successful!

More information on the wolf recovery

This great predator again roams the range, ridges and remote spaces of the Northern Rocky Mountains and the Western Great Lakes in one of the spectacular successes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  These recovered populations are not just being tolerated, but are expanding under professional management by our state partners.

Today, for one reason, and one reason only, we are proposing to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the United States and Mexico -- they are no longer in danger of extinction now or in the foreseeable future.

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Some Amazing Conservation is Happening out West Despite Challenging Issues

I ventured down to Tucson, Arizona, for a few days recently for the winter meeting of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA).

Lee Metcalf NWR The landscape at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge in western Montana is just one type we manage with WAFWA. Credit: Bob Danley/USFWS

WAFWA represents U.S. states from Alaska and Hawaii to Texas and the Dakotas. Several Canadian provinces are also members. That’s almost 4 million square miles, home to more than 1,500 wildlife species.

WAFWA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked, side-by-side, on a number of conservation successes last year.

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