December 20, 2013
The American Sheep Industry Association joined with the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to provide comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) proposed rule to delist the gray wolf and relist the Mexican wolf. In general, the comments support the delisting of the gray wolf in the continental United States and the designation of the Mexican wolf as a nonessential experimental population throughout its entire range.
In summary, the comments stated:
The USFWS taxonomic classification of the gray wolf, C. lupus, and its subspecies in North America is supported by current science. However, closer evaluation of the gray wolf species in North America should be conducted in the future to determine whether the C. l. nubilus and C. l. occidentalis subspecies should continue to be recognized.
The current listing of the gray wolf in the continental United States is unlawful because that grouping of animals does not constitute a valid "species."
The gray wolf is a common species that occupies an extensive range in over 40 countries and in many areas faces few threats. Therefore, this species is not threatened or endangered.
The Mexican wolf subspecies, C. l. baileyi, was extirpated in the wild several decades ago and currently exists as the result of a captive-breeding program and as an experimental population. Therefore, the Mexican wolf should remain listed as an endangered species, but should be classified as a nonessential experimental population throughout its range, including Mexico.
The C. l. nubilus and C. l. occidentalis subspecies occupy hundreds of millions of acres of land in Canada and Alaska, have large populations and face few threats throughout most of their ranges. Therefore, neither subspecies is threatened or endangered.
The USFWS interpretation of the phrase "throughout -- a significant portion of the range" is clearly erroneous and should be corrected in the agency's final rule.
The Pacific Northwest population of gray wolves is not a distinct population segment and is not eligible for listing.
To view the complete comments, go to www.sheepusa.org.