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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

October 13, 2000
Contact: Ed Bangs, 406-449-5225, x 204
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE HOLDS PUBLIC HEARINGS
ON PROPOSAL TO RECLASSIFY/DELIST
GRAY WOLVES IN MUCH OF UNITED STATES

Recovery efforts for the gray wolf are going so well that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to reclassify this animal throughout the lower 48 states. As part of the proposal to change the classification of the wolf, the Service is holding three public hearings-- October 12 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center at 255 South West Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah; October 18 in Helena, Montana, at Cavanaughs Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive; and in the Denver, Colorado, area on October 26 at the Holiday Inn at 7390 W. Hampden Avenue in Lakewood, Colorado. The public hearings will take place from 1-3 p.m. and again in the evening from 6-8 p.m. Participants can register beginning at 12:30 p.m. There will be a court recorder and hearing officer present to record statements by the public. Written comments by the public are welcome at the public hearings, through electronic mail and by U.S. mail.

"These public hearings are just part of a year-long process which includes soliciting information from states, Native American tribes, interest groups and members of the public on the status of gray wolves in the lower 48 states," said Ralph Morgenweck, the Service’s director for the Mountain-Prairie Region. "The Service will consider all information and comments received before making a final decision to change the status of the wolf," Morgenweck added.

Under the Service’s proposal, gray wolves in the conterminous 48 states would be divided into four distinct population segments (DPS), each to be addressed individually:

Western Great Lakes population (includes states of Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin): Because of continued wolf population increases, wolves in these states would be reclassified from endangered to threatened, joining Minnesota wolves in this classification. As a result, all wolves in the Western Great Lakes DPS would receive the same level of protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In addition, increased management flexibility would be permitted through the use of a special rule for control of wolves preying on domestic animals, as is currently the case for wolves in Minnesota.

Northeastern Population (includes states of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont): Wolves in these four states would be reclassified from endangered to threatened. Despite the absence of documented wolf populations in the Northeast, the Service believes there is high potential for wolf recovery in these states, which fall within the gray wolf’s historical range. A special rule accompanying the reclassification would facilitate any future restoration efforts.

Western Population (includes states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and portions of Arizona and New Mexico): These wolves would be reclassified from endangered to threatened. The non-essential, experimental status of wolves in the Yellowstone National Park area and central Idaho would remain, and a special rule would extend similar flexible conservation and control measures to the entire Western population.

Southwestern (Mexican gray wolf) Population (includes portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico): Wolves in these areas would retain their current status of endangered. This includes Mexican gray wolves reintroduced in 1998 and 1999 to reestablish a wild population; 22 Mexican wolves currently live in the wild.

Remainder of the Conterminous 48 States: All or portions of 30 states lie outside the four areas described above. Gray wolves are not believed to be present in those parts of the country, and their restoration in these areas is not necessary in order to achieve wolf recovery under the ESA. Therefore, the Service proposes to delist, or remove from ESA protection, any wolves that may occur there now or in the future.

Progress toward wolf recovery in the west has followed quickly on the heels of the Service’s reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996. After wolves were eliminated from these areas in the 1920s, they now number over 450. An additional population of naturally occurring gray wolves, at least 63, live in northwestern Montana.

Comments concerning this proposal may be mailed to: Content Analysis Enterprise Team, Wolf Comments, 200 East Broadway, PO Box 7669, Room 301, Missoula, Montana 59807. Comments also may be submitted by electronic mail to: graywolfcomments@fws.gov. The subject line of all electronic mail submissions must read: "Wolf Comments." Comments also may be submitted by facsimile to 406-329-3021, and should have the subject: "Wolf Comments." Participants attending the public meetings are also welcome to submit their comments at that time. All comments must include the name of the submitter in order for us to consider them in our final decision. Comments must be received by November 13, 2000. All comments and materials received will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the address above and at other Service locations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service posts information about gray wolf populations at mailto:graywolf@mail.fws.gov, http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf on the Internet. Individuals or groups wishing to be placed on the Service’s mailing list to obtain updates on the wolf’s status also can write: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gray Wolf Review, 1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056 or use either the graywolfmail@fws.gov or http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf address or by calling the Service’s gray wolf information line at 612-713-7337. Facsimile requests may be submitted at 612-713-5292. Additional information about the times and locations of public meetings can also be obtained from these sources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Services manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System of more than 520 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices, 64 Fishery Resource Offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.


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