Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar affirmed the decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to remove gray wolves from the list of threatened and endangered species in the western Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountain states of Idaho and Montana and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Wolves will remain a protected species in Wyoming.
"The recovery of the gray wolf throughout significant portions of its historic range is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act," Salazar said. "When it was listed as endangered in 1974, the wolf had almost disappeared from the continental United States. Today, we have more than 5,500 wolves, including more than 1,600 in the Rockies."
"We know that well-intentioned but narrowly focused interest groups will challenge this decision, but we in Idaho are determined to continue our policy of responsibly managing wolves for a viable, sustainable population that can co-exist with our ungulate herds, our livestock and our people," Idaho Governor Otter stated.
"As contentious as this planning has been at times, the effort involving the federal government, the State of Idaho, the tribes, the livestock industry and conservationists has been affirmed by the Secretary and reflects yet again the power of collaboration in successfully recovering species," said Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho).
The FWS originally announced the decision to delist the wolf in January, but the new administration decided to review the decision as part of an overall regulatory review when it came into office. The delisting regulation will now go to the Federal Register for publication.
It was decided to delist the wolf in Idaho and Montana because these states have approved state wolf management plans in place that will ensure the conservation of the species in the future.
At the same time, the wolves in Wyoming will still be listed under the Endangered Species Act because it was determined that Wyoming's current state law and wolf management plan are not sufficient to conserve its portion of northern Rocky Mountain wolf population.
Gray wolves were previously listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota where they were listed as threatened. The FWS oversees three separate recovery programs for the gray wolf; each has its own recovery plan and recovery goals based on the unique characteristics of wolf populations in each geographic area.
Wolves in other parts of the 48 states, including the Southwest wolf population, remain endangered and are not affected by the actions taken.