The Delisting of the Wolf – Are you prepared for what lies ahead? by Maria Ferguson
On Monday, January 29, 2007, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the Gray Wolves in the Great Lakes States and Northern Rockies have been recovered. They went on to say that they were removing the Gray Wolf from the endangered species list in the Great Lake States and were proposing to remove them from the list in the Northern Rockies, as well. This action will give the individual states the responsibility of Wolf management.
The USFWS would like the matter of this reintroduction, protection and subsequent delisting to be toted as a success; some of us may disagree. I agree with most of this statement that Rodger Schlickeisen, President of Defenders of Wildlife issued after the announcement of the Great Lakes delisting and pending delisting of the Northern Rockies Wolf population.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service decision is cause for both celebration and alarm, as the Great Lakes and the northern Rocky Mountain States have very different outlooks on how to manage the wolves after the delisting”.
If you look at the number of Wolves in Minnesota (86,943 sq. miles), alone, according to the Midwest Region of the USFWS’s website, there are approximately 3,020. Now compare that to the number of Wolves in Idaho (83,557 sq. miles), which is approximately 650 Wolves according to Idaho’s Office of Species Conservation, you see that Minnesota has over 4 ½ times as many Wolves. Despite this drastic difference in Wolf numbers, Minnesota’s Wolf management plan doesn’t call for the hunting of Wolves for at least 5 years once they are delisted. On the other hand, Idaho’s Governor Butch Otter, declared on January 11, 2007 while attending a Sportmens for Fish & Wildlife rally, that he will support public hunts to gradually kill at least 550 Gray Wolves from his state. That will leave the minimum number of Wolves which Idaho needs to maintain before the Wolves would need to be put back on the endangered species list. In fact, Otter boosted "I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself". On January 25, 2007 in Boise a public meeting was held. It was determined by the Idaho Fish and Game (IFG) that it would cost $26.50 if you’re a resident and $256 for non-residents for a tag to hunt wolves in Idaho once they are removed from the endangered species list. The IFG also plans special hunts outside of a regular Wolf season where tickets would be offered to the highest bidder or in a lottery.
Wyoming wants the Federal Government to eliminate 16 Wolf packs from the state before they will even take over management. This would leave the State 7 packs which is the minimum number outside of Yellowstone National Park that Wyoming needs to ensure before Wolves would be put back on the endangered species list. A placeholder bill, 213, passed through the Wyoming State Senate'’ Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources committee on January 23, 2007 that allows unlimited killing of Wolves in wilderness areas. The Wolf would be classified as a predator, which could be killed by any means at any time in wilderness areas.
In Wisconsin, The Cattleman’s Association, Wisconsin Safari Clubs and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association produced a video ad that will be aired shortly on local TV stations. The ad, entitled Little Red Riding Hood was right, is designed to scare the public about the number of Wolves in Wisconsin and the danger they pose to their children. The ad is strewed with misinformation. This group would like to see a cull of at least 200 Wolves to bring the number down to the minimum required for delisting status. Adrian Wydeven, the states Department of Natural Resource (DNR) Biologist, states that the ad's effort to scare people is “wrongheaded” but agrees that it is time to delist the Wolf. “We aren’t going to go out and start killing wolves when de-listing occurs. I think, overall, we’re about where we need to be right now," Wydeven said. “But the target goal in our management plan is 350 wolves outside of Indian reservations, and that’s still our policy." There are currently about 500 Wolves in the state according to the DNR.
In Michigan Wolf numbers are estimated at 434 according to Wolf Coordinator, Brian Roell, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He adds, "The gray wolf will not be hunted by the general public - at least not in the immediate future”. Under Michigan law a person may not kill a wolf except under state permit or in immediate defense of human life.
They can be electronically mailed to NRMGrayWolf@fws.gov, hand-delivered to USFWS, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601, or mailed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wolf Delisting, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601. All comments must be received within 60 days of the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register. For more information on the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves, visit www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/
Here are the hearings and meeting dates, please don’t delay.