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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Regional Office 
911 NE 11th Avenue
Portland
, Oregon 97232-4181
Phone:  503/231-6121
Fax:     503/231-2122

http://pacific.fws.gov

January 5,2006   
 Contact:  David Patte, (503) 231-6211

 Norton, Kempthorne Sign Agreement Turning Over
Most Management of Wolves in Idaho to the State

 Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne today signed a Memorandum of Agreement transferring most of the responsibility for managing gray wolves in central Idaho from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to state wildlife officials.
 

The agreement covers the management of the experimental, non-essential population of gray wolves south of Interstate 90, an area that encompasses most of the state. Wolves north of Interstate 90 are protected under the Endangered Species Act as an endangered species. The Service is completing the application process for a permit to allow the state to manage wolves in the Idaho Panhandle north of Interstate 90.
 

 Populations of wolves in Idaho have flourished since the Service introduced them in the state in 1995. In 2004, there were at least 422 wolves in Idaho, including 27 breeding pairs, nearly three times the recovery goal.
 

 Idaho will manage the species in accordance with a conservation and management plan developed by the state and approved by the Service in anticipation of removal of wolves in the northern Rockies from the list of threatened and endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
 

 “Wolves have thrived in Idaho far above expectations,” Secretary Norton said. “We’ve reached the point biologically where management should be turned over to the state, which is in the best interest of both the wolves and the citizens of Idaho who live near them.”
 

 “I commend Governor Kempthorne and the state of Idaho for their dedication and professionalism in developing a wolf management plan that commits to maintaining wolf population levels above recovery goals while assuring the necessary flexibility to protect public safety, property, pets and livestock,” Norton said.
 

"This agreement gives Idaho the flexibility to take over many of the wolf management responsibilities currently performed by the federal government -- the day to day operations of wolf management," Kempthorne said. "While total state management of these fully recovered wolf populations remains the ultimate goal, today marks an important step forward for Idaho."
 

 Under the terms of the agreement, Idaho will assume many of the Service’s wolf management duties. These include implementing control actions for problem wolves, relocating wolves to avoid human conflicts, taking wolves for scientific and other purposes, and many other functions related to the experimental, non-essential population.
 

 The agreement allows Idaho to implement only the provisions of its Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan of 2002 consistent with federal regulations governing the experimental population. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will retain all law enforcement authority until the gray wolf is delisted.
 

 The Service is prepared to propose to remove the Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection when the states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have Service-approved state plans for managing wolves within their borders. So far, Idaho and Montana have approved plans but Wyoming does not.
 

“Wolves are ready to be delisted and turned over to states and tribes for management,” Norton said. “Until we can do that, however, we want to recognize Idaho and Montana’s management plans and give them as much opportunity as allowed by law to take over management of the species.”
 

The agreement is effective through March 2010 or until amended or wolves are delisted.

 “We expect that the active participation of Idaho Department of Fish and Game in wolf conservation and management will increase the ability to handle local management concerns and needs,” said Dave Allen, director of the Service’s Pacific Region, which includes Idaho. “The professional depth and state-wide presence of the IDFG organization will provide for more resources to manage wolves and conserve the wolf population above recovery levels.”  

 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 Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 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 and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 -         FWS –

 Questions and Answers about the Memorandum of Agreement for Gray Wolf Management in Idaho

 Why is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service transferring much of the responsibility for wolf management in Idaho to state officials?

Gray wolf populations in Idaho have exceeded their recovery goals in Idaho, and transition to state management is a priority of the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Idaho. Transferring much of management responsibility at this time will help facilitate an orderly transition from federal management to state management and will further enhance the conservation of the gray wolf by allowing the state to gain valuable management experience in anticipation of delisting.

 Does this affect all wolves in Idaho?

No. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Secretary of the Interior, through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Idaho applies only to the area of Idaho south of Interstate 90 where gray wolves were reintroduced in 1995 as an experimental, non-essential population. Wolves outside that area – north of Interstate 90 – continue to be listed as endangered. A separate recovery request is being considered to allow Idaho officials to manage wolves in that area.

 What does this mean for gray wolf management in Idaho?

This means that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will assume the lead for managing wolves in the experimental area of the state and will begin to implement its federally approved Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan of 2002. Among the responsibilities the state will assume are:

             Deciding and implementing control actions for problem wolves consistent with the goals and policies outlined in the Management Plan;

             Relocating wolves to avoid human conflicts;

             Taking wolves for scientific purposes, such as research;

             Many other wolf management field functions relating to the experimental, non-essential population of gray wolves such as trapping, collaring, and taking blood and hair samples.

 Does this affect Idaho landowners and public land permittees within the experimental area?

The MOA does not change new 10j experimental population regulations issued by the Service in January 2005.  Idaho landowners in the 10j area may take additional steps to protect their livestock and dogs from attacks by wolves.  On public lands, under specified conditions, the 10j regulations allow grazing permittees, and guiding and outfitter permittees, to take wolves attacking their livestock or their guarding animals without prior written authorization.

 Will the Service continue to play a role in wolf recovery?

Yes. The MOA calls for the Service to:

1.             Conduct all ESA section 7 consultations in the State of Idaho until the parties conclude an amendment to this agreement or another agreement to allow the State to conduct such consultations pertaining to gray wolves.

2.             Issue written authorization for taking wolves by private citizens on tribal reservations.

3.             Loan existing Service-owned field equipment to assist the State in carrying out wolf management and the duties and responsibilities identified in this Agreement.

4.             Provide annual funding to the State to assist the State to carry out wolf management and the duties and responsibilities identified in this Agreement.

5.             Lead federal law enforcement efforts involving the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws regarding wolves in Idaho while cooperating and coordinating with IDFG and other agencies as appropriate.

6.             Expedite obtaining the appropriate and necessary permits such as ESA section 6 and 10(a)(1)(A) so that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game can carryout wolf management throughout Idaho.  

 How much funding will the Service provide?

The pending MOA specifies that funding to implement the agreement shall be provided through the annual appropriations process to the extent feasible, and memorialized in a cooperative agreement between the State and the Service.  For FY 2006, Congress appropriated $726,525 for the State of Idaho. 

 Does the MOA have a time limit?

Yes. The MOA is effective through March 2010, until amended or until wolves are delisted.

 How have wolves in Idaho fared since their reintroduction in 1995?

In 1995, 15 gray wolves from Alberta, Canada, were reintroduced, followed in 1996 by 20 gray wolves from British Columbia. Since then, the population has grown entirely through natural reproduction. The last official count was 422 wolves in 2004, including 27 breeding pairs, which is three times the recovery goal established for wolves in Idaho.  

 Where can I get more information about wolves in Idaho?

More information is available at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov or http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/

                                                        

  GAIL NORTON

 Secretary of the Department of Interior

 DIRK KEMPTHORNE

Governor of the State of Idaho

MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT

Between

 THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR

 And

THE STATE OF IDAHO

 I.          AUTHORITY

 This memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Secretary of Interior acting through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”) and the State of Idaho (hereinafter referred to as the “State”) is entered into under the authority of Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1934 (16 USC Section 661-666c; 48 Stat. 410), as amended; Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 USC 1531-1543; 87 Stat. 884) [“ESA”], and the experimental population regulations for the gray wolf in the Northern Rocky Mountains area, 50 CFR 17.84(n) (“the 10(j) rule”).

 II.        BACKGROUND

 In 1995, gray wolves were reintroduced into Idaho by the Service as a non-essential experimental population as part of the federally-directed wolf recovery program in the northern Rocky Mountain region.  By December of 2002, the biological requirements for wolf recovery in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming had been met.  On February 7, 2005, the Service promulgated a new rule under ESA section 10(j) to grant those states with approved management plans an opportunity to assume many of the management responsibilities currently performed by the Service. The Service has approved Idaho and Montana’s state wolf management plans.

 III.       Purpose and Objectives

 This MOA between the Service and the State is entered into in order to facilitate an orderly transition from federal management to state management and to further enhance the conservation of the gray wolf.  Under the 10(j) rule, and this agreement, the State becomes the designated agent within the non-essential experimental area. A permit under ESA section 10(a)(1)(A), when granted, will allow the State to also manage wolves north of Interstate 90 in Idaho. The State will assume lead wolf management authority as described herein under both management regimes.  The State will begin to implement its federally approved Idaho Wolf Conservation and Management Plan of 2002 to the extent possible as permitted by the 10(j) rule.  For those endangered wolves found north of Interstate 90, the State will employ the 1999 Wolf Control Plan in accordance with the section 10(a)(i)(A) permit. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is the primary managers for the state.

  IV.       RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PARTIES

A. The Service shall:

 1.         Conduct all ESA section 7 consultations in the State of Idaho.

2.         Issue written authorization for taking wolves by private citizens on tribal reservations.

3.         Loan existing Service-owned field equipment to assist the State in carrying out wolf management and the duties and responsibilities identified in this Agreement.

4.         Subject to available appropriations, provide annual funding to the State to assist the State to carry out wolf management and the duties and responsibilities identified in this Agreement.

5.         Lead federal law enforcement efforts involving the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws regarding wolves in Idaho while cooperating and coordinating with IDFG and other agencies as appropriate.

6.         Expedite the processing and issuance of appropriate and necessary permits under authorities including but not limited to ESA sections 6 and 10(a)(1)(A) so that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game can carry out wolf management throughout Idaho.  

B. The State shall:

 1.    Be the designated agent of the Service for all wolf management within its boundaries and implement the provisions of the 10(j) Rule and the Section 10(A)(1)(a) permit except those authorities retained by the Service. 

2.   Assume the responsibility of initial contact and response for investigations in any take, including incidental take, of a wolf on private or public land.

3.   Determine when a wolf may be considered a threat to human safety and either direct USDA Wildlife Services to remove the wolf or conduct wolf removal actions in these cases.

4.   Issue 1-year take authorizations for intentional harassment to private landowners and federal permittees after verified persistent wolf activity on their private land or allotment. The written take authorizations would allow intentional and potentially injurious, but non-lethal, harassment of wolves.

5.   Control problem wolves as defined in the 10(j) rule, by implementing proactive strategies and conducting non-lethal and lethal control actions to reduce or resolve wolf-livestock conflicts.

6.   Implement lethal control or translocation of wolves to reduce impacts on wild ungulates in accordance with the process outlined in the amended 10(j) rule.

7.   Confirm depredations, coordinate, assist or review USDA Wildlife Services depredation confirmation consistent with any MOU or MOA between the State and Animal Damage Control Board, and issue written take authorizations for landowners as provided for in 50 CFR § 17.84(n)(4)(iii)(B).

8.   Provide written authorization for take for research purposes that would be reasonably expected to result in data that will lead to development of sound management of the gray wolf, and lend to enhancement of its survival as a species.

9.         When acting in the course of official duties, state agents may take wolves from the wild, if such action is:

a.         for scientific purposes;

b.         to avoid conflict with human activities;

c.         to relocate a wolf within the NEP areas to improve its survival & recovery prospects;

d.         to aid or euthanize sick, injured, or orphaned wolves;

e.         to salvage a dead specimen which may be used for scientific study;

f.          to aid in law enforcement investigations involving wolves; or

g.         to prevent wolves with abnormal physical or behavioral characteristics, as determined by the Service, from passing on or teaching those traits to other wolves.

10. Determine disposition of wolf carcasses, hides, skulls, or other parts that are not needed for enforcement purposes.  These uses will be for educational purposes, scientific purposes, or for display that will increase understanding of wolves and their management and conservation.

11. Conduct wolf monitoring and research, outreach, and agency coordination.

12. Prepare and submit to the Service annually by March 1 of each year a report as called for in the 10(j) rule.   

 V.        PERIOD OF PERFORMANCE

This agreement is effective through March 2010, unless terminated or wolves are delisted.  This agreement may be terminated by either party after 90 days written notice in accordance with the 10(j) rule.

VI.       Administrative Contacts

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Jeff Foss, Project Leader
1387 S. Vinnell Way
Room 368
Boise, Idaho 8309
(208) 378-5243

 Governor’s Office of Species Conservation Idaho Department of Fish & Game

James Caswell                                                              Steven Huffaker
300 N. 6th Street, Suite 101                                         600 S. Walnut St.
Boise, ID  83702                                                          Boise, ID  83712
(208) 334-2190                                                           (208) 334-5159

 VII.     MODIFICATIONS

 Amendments or renewals may be proposed at any time during the period of performance by either party and shall become effective upon signing by both parties.  No change to this agreement shall be binding unless and until reduced to writing and signed by duly authorized officials of both parties.

 VII.     FUNDING

 The Parties agree that funding to implement this agreement shall be provided through the annual appropriations process to the extent feasible, and memorialized in a cooperative agreement between the State and the Service.  If adequate funding is not forthcoming, this agreement may be terminated.  Nothing in this agreement shall be construed as a commitment or requirement that any Federal agency obligate or expend funds in advance or excess of appropriations.

IX.       NO THIRD PARTY RIGHTS

 Nothing in this agreement creates any enforceable rights in third parties.

 IN WITNESS THEREOF each party hereto has caused this Agreement to be executed by an authorized official on the date set forth below.

 DIRK KEMPTHORNE                                            GALE A. NORTON

Governor                                                                    Secretary of the Interior       

 _______________________________                      _______________________________

                         Date ____________                                                   Date ____________

 

 

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