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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). But it has opted to leave the Mexican wolf protected, drawing protests from cattlemen.
“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 FWS 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.”
The Service will open a 90-day comment period on both proposals seeking additional scientific, commercial and technical information from the public and other interested parties. The comment period will commence upon publication of the proposed rules in the Federal Register. Relevant information received during this comment period will be reviewed and addressed in the Service’s final determination on these proposals, which will be made in 2014. The Service must receive requests for public hearings, in writing, within 45 days of the publication in the Federal Register. Information on how to provide comments will be made available in the Federal Register notices and on the Service’s wolf information page at www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.
The Service’s proposal is supported by governors and state wildlife agency leadership in each of the states with current wolf populations, as well as those that will assume responsibility for managing wolves dispersing into their states, such as Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Utah and North Dakota.
In 2002 the Northern Rocky Mountain population exceeded the minimum recovery goals of 300 wolves for a third straight year, and they were successfully delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountains in 2012 and Western Great Lakes in 2011. Today, there are at least 6,100 gray wolves in the contiguous United States, with a current estimate of 1,674 in the Northern Rocky Mountains and 4,432 in the Western Great Lakes.
The number of Mexican wolves continues to increase within the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. During the 2012 annual year-end survey, the Mexican wolf Interagency Field Team counted a minimum of 75 Mexican wolves in the wild in Arizona and New Mexico, an increase over the 2011 minimum population count of 58 wolves known to exist in the wild.
In addition to listing the Mexican wolf as an endangered subspecies, the Service proposes to modify existing regulations governing the nonessential experimental population to allow captive raised wolves to be released throughout the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area in the Apache and Gila National Forests east central Arizona and west central New Mexico, and to disperse into the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Area in the areas of Arizona and New Mexico located between I-40 and I-10.
Read what supporters of the Service proposal are saying at www.fws.gov/whatpeoplearesaying062013.html.
For more information on gray and Mexican wolves, including the proposed rules, visit www.fws.gov/graywolfrecovery062013.html.
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