Good news in the Great Lakes, but not in the northern Rockies(01/29/2007) -
Statement of Rodger Schlickeisen, President, Defenders of Wildlife
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that gray wolves in the Great Lakes and the northern Rockies have recovered. They are therefore removing the Great Lakes population of wolves from the federal endangered species list and proposing the removal of the northern Rockies population as well. These actions will turn wolf management responsibilities over to the states.
"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.
"The Great Lakes wolves are a classic Endangered Species Act success story. The remarkable recovery efforts to restore the wolf have paid off, and the states are ready to assume the responsibilities of managing their own wolf populations. The states have demonstrated their commitment to wolf recovery while under federal protection, and we look forward to a continued commitment from these states to wolf conservation.
"However, the northern Rockies are another story. Idaho and Wyoming have state management plans that are geared toward wolf eradication, not wolf conservation. Idaho's governor has publicly announced he wants to kill more than 80 percent of the state's wolves and the state has already begun planning large scale wolf eradication efforts through hunting and aerial gunning. Wyoming's plan would allow 16 out of the existing 23 packs of the wolves in the state to be killed on sight. To accomplish this goal, the state would authorize poisoning, trapping and shooting on 90 percent of the wolf's current home range outside the national parks. These two states should take a cue from Montana, which has a strong conservation-oriented management plan for wolves in their state.
"Removing wolves from the endangered species list doesn't mean we can forget about them. If we do, the species will land right back on the list. We support states taking on the responsibility of wolf management, but right now it's crucial for the Fish and Wildlife Service to make sure that all states involved have conservation-oriented wolf management plans that are geared toward sustaining the population and continuing the wolf's recovery. There is no universal standard for monitoring a species after it has been delisted, and until the federal government implements one, the burden lies with the Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the states will adequately monitor the wolves."
Defenders of Wildlife is recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 500,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues. For more information, visit www.defenders.org .
Contact(s):Rebecca Greenberg, (202) 772-3217