May 11, 2007
May 11, 2007 - The Public Lands Council (PLC) submitted comments on behalf of the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Association of National Grasslands to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the proposed removal of the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment of the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List. The comments are the product of member input on conference calls and a discussion during the PLC Spring Conference.
The FWS proposal would remove federal protection of gray wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah, pending FWS approval of each state's wolf management plan. PLC supports the delisting of endangered species from federal control to allow more local control of species management. The comments submitted to FWS demonstrate support for the proposal but urge consideration of several issues.
One issue of broad significance to the livestock industry is the limitation of the FWS authority in a species' historical range. The Endangered Species Act states that a species has to be "in danger of extinction" in a specific area to be listed in that area. The Department of the Interior recently published a legal opinion that the FWS has authority to regulate a species in its current range only and FWS does not have the authority to regulate a species in the entire historical range where it once existed. PLC's comments assert that under this opinion, the gray wolf should be removed from being an endangered species in areas where they currently do not exist.
A second and recurring concern of the livestock industry is the adequate funding of wildlife services and predator management. Without proper funding, the federal government and states will be unable to fully manage wolf populations resulting in environmental and economic losses.
Other issues raised in the comments are support for the Wyoming state management plan, the adjustment of the boundary in Oregon to better address wolf migration and concerns for the maintenance of a wild prey base for wolves. Staff contact: Rebecca Thompson, email@example.com, 202-879-9135