MISSOULA, Mont.–The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation fully supports an announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to delist gray wolves in the continental United States.
“We applaud this decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “The wolf recovery plan was highly successful and the science behind it remains very strong and credible.”
The FWS plan calls for individual state agencies to manage wolves according to the needs of each state by monitoring populations, setting wolf hunting seasons and limits, and attempting to prevent and resolve livestock conflicts. The only exception of the Lower 48 delisting is a small population of the Mexican gray wolf subspecies in Arizona and New Mexico.
“From the moment a species requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, our goal is to work with our partners to address the threats it faces and ensure its recovery,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “An exhaustive review of the latest scientific and taxonomic information shows that we have accomplished that goal with the gray wolf, allowing us to focus our work under the ESA on recovery of the Mexican wolf subspecies in the Southwest.”
“This is a management success story. State agencies from coast to coast are keenly aware of the wolf recovery program and are extremely capable of sustaining viable wolf populations within the borders of their states through their wolf management plans,” added Allen. “The best way to manage the gray wolf is to allow state agencies to do it, just like they manage all other wildlife.”
In the past two years, the federal government removed wolves from the Endangered Species List list in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, where there is a minimum population of nearly 1,700 wolves, and in the Great Lakes region, where wolves numbered more than 4,000 prior to delisting. Those population totals greatly exceed the original recovery thresholds set by FWS scientists.
Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin and Wyoming already have wolf management plans in place and held hunting and trapping seasons in 2012. Michigan formulated a management plan and will hold its first wolf hunt this fall. Oregon and Washington, which have measureable populations, also have current management plans but they do not include hunting.
“In no way is regulated hunting and trapping decimating the species as some environmental groups claim. There is no science to support that. Hunting and trapping are viable management tools,” said Allen.
“Hunters have played a key role for decades in helping to manage and sustain dozens of game populations in North America, and they can do the same for wolves,” said Mike Jimenez, FWS Wolf Recovery Coordinator for the Northern Rockies population. “Hunting remains an accepted and successful wildlife management tool that helps to reduce conflicts with humans, maintain stable populations and generate public support.”