May 8, 2009
Wolves in parts of the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes region came off the endangered species list on Monday. Officials say the population of gray wolves in those areas has recovered and is large enough to survive on its own. The animals were listed as endangered in 1974.
With the delisting, state wildlife agencies will have full control over the animals. States such as Idaho and Montana plan to resume hunting the animals this fall, but no hunting has been proposed in the Great Lakes region. The wolves in Wyoming will remain on the list because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rejected the state's plan for a "predator zone" where wolves could be shot on sight.
Montana publishes a weekly online report highlighting the previous week's activities related to monitoring, wolf and livestock interaction, outreach, education, research, law enforcement and other topics at http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/wolf/default.html
Environmental and animal rights groups have said they plan to sue over the delisting, claiming that there are still not enough wolves to guarantee their survival.
The delisting review began under the administration of President George W. Bush and the proposal was upheld by President Barack Obama's administration after an internal review. In a recent letter to several members of Congress, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wrote that he was "confident that science justifies the delisting of the gray wolf."
Willey said his agency projected there would be between 973 and 1,302 wolves in the northern Rockies under state management, a number well above the 300 wolves set as the original benchmark for the animal's recovery. More than 1,300 wolves roam the mountains of Montana and Idaho and an estimated 4,000 live in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.