The Bush administration will remove the gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and northern Rocky Mountains regions from the federal endangered species list. The wolves will be removed from the endangered species list 30 days after the decision is published in the Federal Register, which officials said could happen within the next two weeks.
But wolves in Wyoming will remain under federal jurisdiction because that state has not done enough to assure their survival, Deputy Interior Secretary Lynn Scarlett said.
Previous attempts by the federal government to remove wolves in both regions from the endangered list and return management authority to the states have been overruled by courts.
In the western Great Lakes region, the federal government made no policy changes.
A small population of Mexican Gray wolves in the Southwest was not affected by Wednesday’s announcement.
The decision could be reversed by President-elect Barack Obama’s administration, said Rowan Gould, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said the matter would be reviewed but offered no other details.
David Mech, a leading wolf expert and senior research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, supported the assertion that the wolf population had rebounded.
“I’m satisfied, and most wolf biologists I know are satisfied, that wolf populations in both regions have been biologically recovered for the last five years,” Mech said.
Environmental and animal rights groups, deriding the move as a last-minute effort by the Bush administration to strip protections, promised Wednesday to return to court with another round of lawsuits.
About 1,500 wolves in the Northern Rockies were taken off the list in February 2008. But a federal judge nullified the move in July, saying state management plans could not guarantee their recovery was sustainable.
The northern Rocky Mountain wolf segment includes all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small part of north-central Utah.
Idaho and Montana already have crafted plans for public hunts to keep wolf populations in check. There were no immediate plans for hunts in the western Great Lakes.”
Last September, a federal judge sided with animal-rights groups that accused the government of misapplying the law in when it lifted protections for about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2007.
Gray wolves previously were listed as endangered in the lower 48 states, except in Minnesota, where they were listed as threatened.
Government makes decision on gray wolf protection – MATTHEW BROWN and JOHN FLESHER, AP. Wednesday January 14, 2009 as reported in YahooNews. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090115/ap_on_re_us/gray_wolf_endangered;_ylt=AiFZ2go7QM_SwVvZykjNuYYPLBIF
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