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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feds Look to Remove Protection of Wolves in Wyoming

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 5:11 PM

One of the largest sticking points in removing wolves from the Endangered Species List has been the lack of a federally approved management plan in Wyoming—but it looks like that roadblock is a whole lot closer to being removed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced earlier today that it is proposing that wolves be removed from federal protection in Wyoming now that the state has come up with a more acceptable management plan. For years, wolves remained under protection in the Equality State despite being delisted in both Idaho and Montana because the Wyoming management plan allowed wolves to be shot on site anywhere outside of national parks and reserves.

Wyoming's new plan—which still has to be formally adopted—now keeps wolves inside parks and reserves (including Yellowstone National Park and the National Elk Refuge in Jackson Hole) under federal protection, while the species will be treated as a trophy game animal, with strict limits on hunting. Additionally protected areas will expand during the winter to help maintain the overall wolf population.

Wolf advocates have already come out against the proposed delisting, saying that Wyoming's plan doesn't offer enough protections and that the species could still be hunted across 90 percent of the state. Defenders of Wildlife also pointed out that protections shouldn't be dropped when the state plan still hasn't been adopted by the state.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service should not be removing protections for wolves in Wyoming under these circumstances. The proposed delisting rule effectively endorses a state management plan that permits unmanaged wolf killing across the vast majority of the state, and it only perpetuates the notion that wolves are unwanted predators," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of DOW in a written statement.

Fish and Wildlife will take public comments on the proposed removal from the Endangered Species List through Jan. 13, 2012. A peer review panel will look at the proposal during that same time period, after which it will issue a formal recommendation.

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