Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

For Release on April 30, 2012

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE REOPENS COMMENT PERIOD ON PROPOSAL TO REMOVE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROTECTION FOR GRAY WOLVES IN THE STATE OF WYOMING

Public Comment Period Open until May 16, 2012

 

Contacts: Diane Katzenberger, 303-236-4578
Seth Willey, 303-236-4257

                 
Following the recent approval of four documents that clarify Wyoming’s approach to wolf management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reopening the comment period on May 1 regarding our proposal to remove the gray wolf population in Wyoming from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

If this proposal is finalized, the gray wolf would be delisted in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the nonessential experimental population designation would be removed, and future management for this species would be conducted by the appropriate State, Tribal, or Federal wildlife managers.

“Wyoming’s recent approval of a revised State law, regulations, and management plan amendment are important milestones in our cooperative effort to return management of this iconic species to the States,” said Steve Guertin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Regional Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region. “These documents demonstrate a strong commitment to maintain the Wyoming wolf population well above minimal recovery levels after delisting.  Responsible State management will ensure that this remarkable conservation success endures for future generations.”

On October 5, 2011, the Service proposed to remove the gray wolf in Wyoming from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.  This proposal relied heavily on Wyoming’s 2011 wolf management plan and noted that conforming changes to State law and regulation would be required to allow Wyoming’s plan to be implemented as written.  Wyoming recently completed four documents that clarify Wyoming’s approach to wolf management after delisting including revised State statutes, revised gray wolf management regulations (chapter 21), revised gray wolf hunting season regulations (chapter 47), and an Addendum to the Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan. 

The Service has reviewed these State management documents and concludes that the revisions are consistent with the conditionally approved Wyoming Gray Wolf Management Plan.  Based on our review, we believe Wyoming’s regulatory framework is likely to maintain a population of at least 10 breeding pairs and at least 100 wolves in Wyoming outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Overall, we expect the Greater Yellowstone Area population will be gradually reduced from around 500 wolves in recent years toward a likely long-term average of around 300 wolves across portions of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. 

The Service is reopening the comment period for the proposal to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule in light of these documents.  If you submitted comments previously, you do not need to resubmit them because we have already incorporated them into the public record and will fully consider them in preparation of the final rule. 

The documents and more information can be found on our website at:  http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf

Written comments regarding the proposal may be submitted by one of the following methods:

Electronically:  Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.  In the Enter Keyword or ID box, enter FWS–R6–ES–2011–0039, which is the docket number for this rulemaking.  Then, in the Search panel at the top of the screen, under the Document Type heading, check the box next to Proposed Rules to locate this document.  You may submit a comment by clicking on “Submit a Comment.”
By hard copy:  Submit by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to:  Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R6–ES–2011–0039; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042–PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.

Comments must be received within 15 days, on or before May 16, 2012. The Service will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process.

All comments and information received during the comment period will be considered during the preparation of a final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal.  Until a final decision on our proposal is published, wolves in Wyoming will remain fully protected under the ESA.

Across the Northern Rockies (which includes the Greater Yellowstone, central Idaho, and northwest Montana subpopulations), the gray wolf population is biologically recovered, with more than 1,774 wolves and 109 breeding pairs. This population has exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years, fully occupies nearly all suitable habitat, and has high levels of genetic diversity.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife and plants. The Service working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species Program, visit http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/.

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-FWS-