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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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


February 3, 2005

Ed Bangs (406) 449-5225, x204
Sharon Rose (303) 236-4580
Carter Niemeyer (208) 378-5639
Meggan Laxalt Lackey (208) 378-5796

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new 10(j) regulation which becomes effective for gray wolves in the experimental population areas in Montana and Idaho on February 7, 2005, includes increased flexibility for wolf management for private citizens to protect their livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals, and dogs.  In addition, the new rule provides States and Native American Tribes with Service-approved wolf management plans, the opportunity to manage gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains population, if they choose to do so, after the necessary agreements are signed by all parties.  

The rule only applies to the experimental population areas within States and Tribal reservations which have Service-approved wolf management plans.  Only two States, Montana and Idaho, where there are about 580 wolves, presently fit that category.  At this time, this regulation does not apply to the State of Wyoming because it does not have a Service-approved wolf management plan. 

“These changes provide a logical transition between management by the Federal government and management by the States and Tribes,” said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region.  “State and Tribal management under scientifically sound wolf management plans provides effective wolf conservation and will allow the States and Tribes to gain valuable management experience in anticipation of delisting.” 

Among other things, in experimental population areas of Montana [south of I-90 and south of the Missouri River] and Idaho [south of I-90] it allows that: 

  •      Anyone may harass a wolf in a noninjurious and opportunistic manner [scaring it and running it off in a way that doesn’t hurt the wolf] at any time.  Such harassment must be reported within 7 days. 

  •       Wolves seen attacking, chasing, molesting, or harassing livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals, and dogs on private land can be shot by the landowners or livestock owner without prior written authorization.  It must be reported within 24 hours and there must be physical evidence of a wolf attack such as dead or wounded livestock, trampled vegetation, and mixed wolf and livestock sign. 

  •      Wolves attacking, chasing, molesting, or harassing livestock and livestock herding and guarding animals on public federal lands can be shot by grazing permittees and guide/outfitters that use livestock as part of their federal land-use permit, on their active livestock allotments, and on public ceded lands by Tribal members, without prior written authorization.  It must be reported within 24 hours and there must be physical evidence of a wolf attack.

  •     Under some circumstances landowners and public land grazing permittees and guide/outfitting permittees may be issued written authorization to use rubber bullets to harass wolves, or shoot-on-sight permits to kill wolves on their private land or their federal grazing federal allotments. 

  •      Wolves determined to be causing unacceptable impacts to wildlife populations, such as herds of deer and elk, can be killed by State or Tribal agencies.  This is allowed only after the States or Tribes complete science-based documents that have undergone public and peer review and have been approved by the Service.

  • f  If they chose to do so, States or Tribes with approved wolf management plans and after they have developed and signed agreements with the Service or Secretary of the Interior can lead gray wolf conservation and management in the experimental areas within their States or reservation boundaries. 

            Gray wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies as nonessential experimental populations under the Endangered Species Act in 1995 and 1996.  This designation allows Federal, State and Tribal agencies and private citizens more flexibility in managing wolves.  The rule and other information about the wolf recovery program can be viewed at .


            The recent ruling by a district court in Oregon does not affect the 10(j) population of wolves.

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.



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