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The Mountain-Prairie Region


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

September 17, 2001

Ed Bangs (406)449-5225, x204;
Sharon Rose (303)236-7917, x415;


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that its 3-year countdown to wolf recovery will start in the year 2000, meaning that the Service is now in its second year which allows for a possible future proposal to delist the gray wolf possible in 2003. This new recovery information came with a recent confirmation by the USDA Wildlife Services and the Nez Perce Tribe of a recently discovered Gold Fork wolf pack, south of McCall, Idaho. The discovery of this pack, the 30th known pair to successfully raise pups in 2000, made 2000 the first year of the 3-year count down toward reaching the northern Rocky Mountain wolf recovery goal.

The wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains will be considered "recovered" when there are 30 breeding pairs of wolves evenly distributed throughout western Montana, central Idaho, and the Greater Yellowstone area for three successive years. After the wolf population reaches recovery levels and, as required by the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is assured that state wolf management practices would adequately conserve the wolf population, the Service will propose that wolves be removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. The delisting process includes extensive public involvement and the opportunity for comment which could begin in early 2003.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services and the Nez Perce Tribe captured, radio-collared, and released the previously undocumented pack’s alpha male and a yearling male in early September. Just last week Tribal biologists confirmed the pack contained at least another yearling wolf in addition to this year’s pups, meaning it can be counted as a "official" wolf breeding pair in 2000. Because wolf pups stay with their pack until they are nearly two-years-old, it is possible to determine if a pack successfully raised pups in a previous year by finding yearlings the subsequent year. Further information and maps showing the location of wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains can be obtained at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principle 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 94-million acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 535 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 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 Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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