|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
April 13, 2004
Contact: Sharon Rose
OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC TO COMMENT ON U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE’S PROPOSAL TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL AUTHORITY TO STATE FOR MANAGEMENT OF WOLVES
An opportunity for the public to offer comments on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to provide additional authority to the State of Montana for the management of wolves occurs at a public hearing at the Red Lion Colonial Hotel, 2301 Colonial Drive, in Helena from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, April 19, 2004. In addition to the formal comment session, the Service will have a biologist available to answer questions for a short time both before and after the formal public hearing.
The public comment period on the proposed rule ends at the close of business on May 10, 2004.
Wolf populations now exceed their recovery goals under the Endangered Species Act in the northern Rocky Mountains, and Montana and Idaho both have approved wolf management plans. Wyoming does not have an approved wolf management plan at this time.
"Although we are unable at this time to continue with the process to delist the wolf population in the region because we do not have approved plans for all three states, we believe that it is appropriate to pursue as much local management for this recovered wolf population as possible," said Ralph Morgenweck, Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region.
Under the proposal, landowners would be able to take additional steps to protect their livestock and pets from attacks by problem wolves, and the state would be able to issue permits to allow landowners to control wolves that consistently pose a threat to domestic animals.
The proposed changes would only have effect in the experimental population areas established Montana and Idaho when wolves were reintroduced in 1995 and1996. The proposal also would not apply to wolf populations in the Great Lakes region or in the southwestern United States.
Among other things, the proposed regulations would provide that:
• Wolves attacking livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals and pets on private land could be taken without a permit if they are attacking or about to attack such animals. A permit would be required for such take on public lands.
• Wolves determined to be causing unacceptable impacts to wildlife populations, such as herds of deer and elk, could also be taken. This could be allowed when such populations are not meeting state management goals and are unlikely to rebound because of excessive predation by wolves.
The Service has been working with Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as they develop the state management plans that are required under the Act before the wolf can be delisted.
The proposed rule, which was published in the Federal Register on March 9, 2004, may be viewed on line at http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov/wolf10J.pdf. A public hearing will also be held in Boise, Idaho, on April 20, 2004, to discuss the proposed change for state wolf management.
Comments may also be sent to the following address: USFWS, Western Gray Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 100 North Park, Number 320, Helena, MT 59601, 406-449-5339 (fax) or firstname.lastname@example.org. If the e-mail address listed here is unavailable, comments should be mailed or faxed to the Service’s Helena office, listed above.
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 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management 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 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.
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