Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designating the Northern Rocky Mountain Population of Gray Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment and Removing This Distinct Population Segment From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule
Date of this Version
Under the Endangered Species Act (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), propose to establish a distinct population segment (DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in the Northern Rocky Mountains (NRM) of the United States. The proposed NRM DPS of the gray wolf encompasses the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, a small part of north-central Utah, and all of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. We are also proposing to remove the gray wolf in the NRM DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Act, because threats will have been reduced or eliminated if Wyoming adopts a State law and wolf management plan that we believe will adequately conserve wolves. The States of Montana and Idaho have adopted State laws and management plans that would conserve a recovered wolf population into the foreseeable future. However, Wyoming State law and its wolf management plan are not sufficient to conserve Wyoming's portion of a recovered NRM wolf population at this time. Therefore, if Wyoming fails to modify its management regime to adequately conserve wolves, we will keep a significant portion of the range in the Wyoming portion of the NRM DPS because there are not adequate regulatory mechanisms in that area. In this situation, wolves in the significant portion of the range in northwestern Wyoming, outside the National Parks, will retain their nonessential experimental status under section 10(j) of the Act. We will remove the remainder of the NRM DPS from the List of Endangered and Threatened Species. Any gray wolves in the remainder of Wyoming outside the National Parks and those portions of Washington, Oregon, and Utah in the NRM DPS, are not essential to conserving the NRM wolf population and these areas do not constitute a significant portion of the range in the DPS. Therefore these areas will not remain listed. We are also soliciting comments regarding our intention to use section 6 agreements to allow States outside the NRM DPS with Service-approved wolf management plans to assume management of listed wolves, including nonlethal and lethal control of problem wolves.