Final Rule To Identify the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and To Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

Final Rule To Identify the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and To Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

Summary
Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), identify a distinct population segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) of the United States and revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife by removing gray wolves within NRM DPS boundaries, except in Wyoming. The NRM gray wolf DPS encompasses the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, a small part of north-central Utah, and all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Our current estimate for 2008 indicates the NRM DPS contains approximately 1,639 wolves (491 in Montana; 846 in Idaho; 302 in Wyoming) in 95 breeding pairs (34 in Montana; 39 in Idaho; 22 in Wyoming). These numbers are about 5 times higher than the minimum population recovery goal and 3 times higher than the minimum breeding pair recovery goal. The end of 2008 will mark the ninth consecutive year the population has exceeded our numeric and distributional recovery goals. The States of Montana and Idaho have adopted State laws, management plans, and regulations that meet the requirements of the Act and will conserve a recovered wolf population into the foreseeable future. In our proposed rule (72 FR 6106, February 8, 2007), we noted that removing the Act's protections in Wyoming was dependant upon the State's wolf law (W.S. 11-6-302 et seq. and 23-1-101, et seq. in House Bill 0213) and wolf management plan adequately conserving Wyoming's portion of a recovered NRM wolf population. In light of the July 18, 2008, U.S. District Court order, we reexamined Wyoming law, its management plans and implementing regulations, and now determine they are not adequate regulatory mechanisms for the purposes of the Act. We determine that the best scientific and commercial data available demonstrates that (1) the NRM DPS is not threatened or endangered throughout ``all'' of its range (i.e., not threatened or endangered throughout all of the DPS); and (2) the Wyoming portion of the range represents a significant portion of range where the species remains in danger of extinction because of inadequate regulatory mechanisms. Thus, this final rule removes the Act's protections throughout the NRM DPS except for Wyoming. Wolves in Wyoming will continue to be regulated as a non-essential, experimental population per 50 CFR 17.84(i) and (n).
Full Title
Final Rule To Identify the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and To Revise the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife
Document Type
Rule
Document Number
E9-5991
Document Citation
74 FR 15123
Action
Final rule.
Publication Date
Effective Date