Gray Wolf Proposed for Delisting Nationwide
By Georgia Parham
The gray wolf has been an endangered species success story in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains for several years. Now, the Service proposes to remove Endangered Species Act protection for gray wolves throughout the United States and Canada, with the exception of the Mexican wolf population in the southwest United States. The Service proposes to designate Mexican wolves as an endangered subspecies.
A comprehensive review of gray wolves in the U.S. determined that the current listing for gray wolf, which was 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 did not reasonably represent the range of the only remaining Mexican wolf population in the Southwest.
Under the proposal, state and tribal wildlife management agency professionals would resume responsibility for management and protection of gray wolves in states where wolves occur. It focuses the protection on the Mexican wolf, the only remaining entity that warrants protection under the Act, by designating the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies.
In 2002, the Northern Rocky Mountain population exceeded the minimum recovery goals of 300 wolves for a third straight year, and they were successfully delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains and Western Great Lakes in 2012. Today, there are at least 6,100 gray wolves in the contiguous United States, with a current estimate of 1,674 in the Northern Rocky Mountains and 4,432 in the Western Great Lakes.
The number of Mexican wolves continues to increase. Survey teams counted a minimum of 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico in 2012.
The Service opened a 90-day comment period on both proposals seeking additional scientific, commercial and technical information from the public and other interested parties. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 13, 2013.
Read more about the proposal at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html