February 29, 2008
February 29, 2007 - In the Feb. 27 Federal Register, the U.S. Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published its final rule, which designated the Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) population of gray wolf as a distinct population segment (DPS), removing it from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife.
The summary states, "Based on the best scientific and commercial data available, the NRM DPS is no longer an endangered or threatened species pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act) (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The NRM DPS has exceeded its biological recovery goals, and all threats in the foreseeable future have been sufficiently reduced or eliminated."
Within hours of the final rule's posting a coalition of 11 environmental and animal rights groups notified the Department of Interior that they plan to sue to stop the removal of gray wolves in the northern Rockies from the endangered species list.
Representatives of the groups say the estimated 1,500 wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming are too few to ensure the species' survival - particularly given the states' plans to sponsor wolf hunts beginning this fall.
Sharon Rose, a spokesman for the FWS, said the challenge was expected and that her agency is confident its latest decision "will withstand scrutiny."
"Everybody took extra care to make sure that what we were doing was the right thing to do and that the population was actually ready to be de-listed," she said. "We believe the states will do a good job."
A spokesman for Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso criticized the environmental groups for 'interfering' in the management of the region's natural resources. Barrasso is one of many state leaders who had prodded the federal government to cede control over wolves.
"Most of these special interest groups wouldn't know a gray wolf if it walked up and bit them," Barrasso spokesman, Greg Keeley, said. Reprinted in part from the Associated Press