Closeup shot of the Gray Wolf (Photo : National Park Service)
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that the population of gray wolves in Wyoming has officially recovered to the point that they no longer warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act and as such will be removed from endangered species status.
Beginning September 30th the USFWS will no longer federally monitor the species and will return that responsibility to the State of Wyoming. The state will operate under an official approved management plan, similar to the ones in place in other states including Idaho and Montana.
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"The return of the wolf to the Northern Rocky Mountains is a major success story, and reflects the remarkable work of the States, Tribes, and our many partners to bring this iconic species back from the brink of extinction," Dan Ashe, USFWS Director said in a statement. "The wolf population has remained healthy under state management in Idaho and Montana, and we're confident that the Wyoming population will sustain its recovery under the management plan Wyoming will implement."
The plan adopted by the state will ensure that at least 150 wolves and 15 breeding partners will be maintained in Wyoming. The USFWS says it expects the Greater Yellowstone Area wolf population to see to it that an average of 300 wolves is sustained. In terms of the vast Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment, the expectation is to achieve a long term average of approximately 1,000 gray wolves.
The most recent study of the gray wolf population in the Northern Rocky Mountains boasts a population of 1,774 adult wolves and 109 breeding pairs. The USFWS says this population has substantially exceeded recovery goals for ten executive years.
Although the state of Wyoming will officially be in charge of its population monitoring, the USFWS says it will continue to also monitor the delisted wolf population in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana for a minimum of five years. The USFWS says it will retain the authority to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections at any time if the situation is warranted.
"Our primary goal, and that of the states, is to ensure that gray wolf populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains remain healthy, giving future generations of Americans the chance to hear its howl echo across the area," Ashe said. "No one, least of all Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, wants to see wolves back on the endangered species list. But that's what will happen if recovery targets are not sustained."