In another step toward delisting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday, February 21, filed the rule that would remove gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the federal endangered species list.
The rule will be posted in the Federal Register on February 27, and it would take effect 30 days later on March 28. Legal action may delay the effective date of the final rule.
Once the rule takes effect, Idaho would assume full management responsibility for wolves. To that end, Idaho Fish and Game has developed a draft Wolf Population and Management Plan. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission is expected to consider and act on the plan during its meeting in Boise March 5 and 6.
The plans primary objectives are:
- Maintain wolf population at the 2005-2007 levels.
- Provide for harvest of wolves at higher levels where conflicts are higher.
- Provides flexible and adaptive management approach to harvest.
- Maintains connectivity between states by allowing wolves to persist along borders and reducing or eliminating harvest during peak dispersal periods, constant communication between states and monitoring of border packs.
- Provides for nonconsumptive enjoyment of wolves.
- Manage wolves as a native species similar to other big game.
- Monitor health and diseases and other factors.
- Mostly assures that wolves will never be relisted and are here to stay.
The draft wolf management plan is available on the Fish and Game Website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/state/draft_plan/WolfPo... [PDF, 1.6 MB]
The federal delisting rule covers five listing factors:
- Science related issues, such as regional populations, connectivity and genetics.
- Disease and predation.
- Adequate regulatory mechanisms, such as state plans and laws.
- Other factors such as public attitudes, genetics, climate change, harvest impacts on social structure.
The Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor wolf recovery for five years after the delisting rule takes effect. The Service would consider putting wolves back on the endangered species list if populations drop below 10 breeding pairs or 100 wolves in each of the three states - Idaho, Montana and Wyoming - and would be reviewed should populations drop below 15 breeding pairs or 150 wolves for three consecutive years. Wyoming must maintain seven breeding pairs outside Yellowstone National Park.
Any major changes in state laws, diseases, or other concerns could cause relisting.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule is available on the Internet at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/