December 12, 2008
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Thursday issued its final rule in the Federal Register to comply with three court orders, which reinstated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountains. This rule reinstates the listing of gray wolves in all of Wisconsin and Michigan, the eastern half of North Dakota and South Dakota, the northern half of Iowa, the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana, the northwestern portion of Ohio, the northern half of Montana, the northern panhandle of Idaho, the eastern third of Washington and Oregon and in north-central Utah as endangered, and reinstates the listing of wolves in Minnesota as threatened. This rule also reinstates the former designated critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan, special regulations for the gray wolf in Minnesota, and special rules designating the gray wolf in the remainder of Montana and Idaho and all of Wyoming as nonessential experimental populations.
This rule is a result of several court orders. A July 18 ruling by the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Mont., issued an order immediately reinstating 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. The wolf population in the Midwest was delisted in early 2007, but that decision was reversed in court in October 2008.
While this is the final ruling, management of these populations of gray wolves have been governed by the same ESA protections that were in effect prior to their delisting since the court orders.
The Federal Register
document can be viewed at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-29265.htm