(Map may reflect historical as well as recent sightings)
On May 5, 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service published a final rule – as directed by legislative language in the recently enacted Fiscal Year 2011 appropriations bill – reinstating the Service’s 2009 decision to delist biologically recovered gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
Status and Background
Since the Fish and Wildlife Service initiated gray wolf recovery efforts in the lower 48 States in the 1980s, it has focused those efforts on restoring populations in three geographic areas considered most favorable for wolf recovery: the northern Rocky Mountains, the western Great Lakes region, and the Mexican gray wolf recovery area in Arizona and New Mexico. The northern Rocky Mountains recovery effort was centered on Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, but the wolf population now extends into eastern Oregon and Washington.
The western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains wolf populations are now large and successfully recovered. Thus, the Fish and Wildlife Service has removed the northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment (DPS), which includes the eastern third of Oregon and Washington, from the Endangered Species List and is proposing to remove the western Great Lakes population.
Delisting of the northern Rocky Mountains DPS has resulted in a rather unusual situation where wolves are no longer endangered in that area, but in surrounding areas that don’t currently have wolves, Endangered Species Act protections are still in place. There are parts of Oregon and Washington where this is the case. To address this situation, the Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating an assessment of the biological and conservation status of wolves in the Pacific Northwest to determine their appropriate listing classification. When this assessment is complete, the Fish and Wildlife Service will evaluate a potential Pacific Northwest DPS in accordance with the agency’s existing DPS policy and will reclassify this area through an additional rulemaking process. As part of this process, the Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment and intends to complete the review by December 2011. For more information and up-to-date reports, click here.
Currently, the boundaries of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS are the same as they were in 2009. The DPS includes all of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, as well as eastern Oregon (view map - east of the centerline of Highway 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns Junction and that portion of Oregon east of the centerline of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction), eastern Washington (that portion of Washington east of the centerline of Highway 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and that portion of Washington east of the centerline of Highway 395 south of Mesa), and a small corner of Utah.
Dept. of Interior Announces Next Steps in Protection, Recovery, and Management of Gray Wolves News Release (5/5/11)