October 31, 2008
October 31, 2008 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced it is reopening the public comment period on its proposal to delist the gray wolf in the northern Rocky Mountains. The public will have until Nov. 28, 2008, to submit comments to the Federal Register that was posted on Oct. 28, 2008.
The FWS is asking the public to provide comments and any additional information on the 2007 proposal to delist wolves. The FWS is seeking additional information on a variety of topics related to the delisting.
On July 18, 2008, the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Mont., issued an order immediately reinstating Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. In September 2008, the FWS requested the court vacate and remand the final delisting rule back to them. The court granted the request on Oct. 13, 2008.
At this time, the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves remains under the protection of the ESA. The area affected by this ruling includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon and parts of north-central Utah. Management of the northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves is now governed by the same ESA protections that were in effect before wolves were delisted on March 28, 2008. This proposal could end federal protection for the gray wolf in Montana and Idaho while leaving it in place in Wyoming.
The minimum recovery goal for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains is 30 breeding pairs and at least 300 wolves for three consecutive years, a goal that was attained in 2002 and has been exceeded every year since. Gray wolves were previously listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota, where they were listed as threatened. The wolf population in the Midwest was delisted in early 2007, but that decision was reversed in court in October 2008.
The Federal Register is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-25629.htm