Posted: Aug 31, 2012 4:14 PM by MTN News
Updated: Aug 31, 2012 4:14 PM
The state of Wyoming will take over wolf management at the end of September, after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced wolves are recovered enough to be delisted under the Endangered Species Act.
Wyoming officials plan to reduce the wolf population to 150 wolves and 15 breeding pairs. According to Wolf Manager Mike Jimenez, the state currently has as estimated 230 wolves and 20 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Dan Ashe, Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said, "This is a proud day for the women and men of the Fish and Wildlife Service. This rule represents our determination that wolves in Wyoming and across the Northern Rocky Mountain Region are recovered."
USFWS plans on monitoring wolves over the next five years to ensure they sustain their recovery. Wolves will remain protected in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, the National Elk Refuge and the Wind River Reservation.
Wyoming has approved a harvest of 52 wolves in a hunting season beginning Oct. 1 and ending when the quota is reached. Wolves found outside the hunting area are classified as predators and can be shot on sight.
Similar plans are in place in Montana and Idaho. A recent population estimation puts the Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf Population at nearly 1,800 adult wolves and just over 100 breeding pairs. USFWS officials say the population has exceeded recovery goals for 10 consecutive years.
Ashe said, "It's important to know that the job of the endangered species act is not to provide permanent protections for individual animals but rather to prevent the extinction and support the recovery of the species and that's exactly what the act has accomplished."
Friday morning before the decision was announced, the Defenders of Wildlife, an organization dedicated to the preservation of all wild animals, issued a statement saying, "Today's removal of wolves in Wyoming from the endangered species list is a tragic ending to what has otherwise been one of America's greatest wildlife conservation success stories."
Wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. They were recently delisted in Idaho and Montana.