Thursday, March 31, 2011

Agreement Reached to Delist Gray Wolf in MT and ID

From The Wildlife Society Policy News:

On 18 March 2011, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with environmental groups that, if approved by the court, would pave a path to return state management of recovered gray wolf populations in Montana and Idaho while the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) considers the full delisting of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountain region. The agreement comes after 10 plaintiffs sued FWS regarding the 2010 reinstatement of Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. The 2010 restoration of ESA protections was a decision made by a Federal District Court judge who ruled that the species could not be state managed in Montana and Idaho but under federal protection in Wyoming, following a 2009 delisting of the species in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Tracy Brooks/USFWS
The settlement requires that the DOI review the status of the gray wolf within four years via an independent scientific assessment and address future delisting of wolves in the region as a distinct population segment, not on a state-by-state basis. The plaintiffs have requested that the 2009 delisting be reinstated in the two states on an interim basis and agree not to challenge a regional delisting plan for five years, as long as populations are managed sustainably under approved state management plans. Federal protection would remain in Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, and negotiations will continue between FWS and Wyoming until an agreement is made on a management plan that provides sufficient protections to wolves, should they be delisted within the state. Four plaintiff groups did not agree to the settlement and are therefore not subject to litigation constraints. The judge is expected to make a decision about the agreement soon.
Sources: E&E Publishing, LLC (Greenwire, E&E News PM), Department of Interior.

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