In Wolf News
March 31, 2005
Montana, Idaho Given Wolf-Management Authority
March/April 2005 -- The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service unveiled a new regulation in a news release in early January that expands the authority of States and Native American Tribes with Service-approved wolf management plans to manage gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains population.
The rule applies to States and Tribes that have Service-approved wolf management plans. Only two States, Montana and Idaho, where there are about 550 wolves, presently fit that category. The new rule takes effect in these two states in 30 days, or around the beginning of February.
"These changes provide a logical transition between management by the Federal government and management by the States and Tribes," said Ralph Morgenweck, regional director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region. "State and Tribal management under scientifically sound wolf-management plans provides effective wolf conservation and will allow the States and Tribes to gain valuable management experience in anticipation of delisting."
Under the Final Rule, wolves attacking livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals and dogs on private land can be taken by landowners without prior written authorization. Wolves attacking livestock, livestock herding and guarding animals on public grazing allotments can be taken by grazing permittees, guides and outfitters without written authorization.
Gray wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies as non-essential experimental populations under the Endangered Species Act in 1995 and 1996. Wolf populations now exceed their numerical recovery goals under the Act.
Wolf Status In Question
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones in Portland, Ore., ruled on Jan. 31, 2005, that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) improperly separated the gray wolf into Distinct Population Segments.
This decision by the federal court requires FWS to abandon its 2003 policy that created three regional recovery areas and requires the wolf to be recovered within most of its historic habitat at previous numbers before delisting can occur. With the wolf's 'endangered' designation restored, rules allowing ranchers to harass or kill wolves have been eliminated.
The FWS director's office said it will take two to four weeks to review the decision and its implications. They did indicate that they will move forward and issue the guidance for the new 10j rules on wolves in Montana and Idaho, which allows increased flexibility for wolf management in these two states with approved wolf management plans.
"It looks like it will be a longer period of time before we will have the authority to manage wolves," said Gary Skiba, director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Bonnie Kline, executive director of the Colorado Woolgrowers Association, called the ruling a stab in the back.
"Our willingness to work together and be proactive and work outside the box has just plummeted to zero because of this," she said.