As we began 2011, wolves of the Northern Rockies were listed as endangered. Just a few months later everything changed for this special population of predators.
A year ago Congress passed a 2011 budget rider (Sec. 1713) that removed Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from wolves of the Northern Rockies. Wolves in Idaho, Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and northern Utah were removed from the endangered species list and put under state control. Congress excluded Wyoming from this rule so wolves of this state were still federally protected.
Although U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) criticized Wyoming's wolf plan on the grounds that unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state’s wolf population below federally required levels, last summer Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reached an agreement to propose stripping ESA protections from Wyoming’s wolves.
Today, the USFWS made it official, announcing that the Wyoming population of gray wolves is recovered and no longer warrants protection under the ESA. Beginning September 30th, wolves in Wyoming will be managed by the state under an approved management plan, as they are in the states of Idaho and Montana.
Wyoming's wolf management plan calls for the state to:
- Deem wolves predators in 90% of the state (all but the northwest corner of Wyoming), where they could be killed by any means, at any time, without a license.
- In Wyoming's northwest corner, right outside Yellowstone National Park, classify wolves as trophy game animals meaning they could only be hunted with a license.
- Maintain only 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs outside of Yellowstone National Park
Many of our supporters have reached out to us asking how they can take action on behalf of Wyoming's wolves. Defenders of Wildlife will be taking this fight to the courts, and we encourage you to spread the word, and show the administration that this was a mistake. Stay tuned.