Deal is reached with Wyoming on delisting wolves

So the USFWS caved in. Here is a brief story in the Idaho Statesman. 2:33 p.m. Wolves move closer to delisting status. Idaho Statesman

KIFI, Local News 8. Fish and Wildlife to move ahead on wolf delisting in Idaho, Montana

Will Northern Rockies wolf delisting result in huge kill-off of wolves?

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The Sawtooth Mountains at Stanley, Idaho. Photo by Ralph Maughan. June 2006. Will wolf delisting in the Northern Rockies allow the state of Idaho to wipe out all the wolves in the scenic area where the public can actually see them?

Idaho has 650 or so wolves. The state’s vast backcountry and wildlife resources have allowed wolves to prolifterate more than in Wyoming and Montana. There is no good evidence these wolves have reduced Idaho’s elk herds, but the very modest recovery goal set by the Idaho wolf plan would allow the state to reduce the the wolf population to about a dozen packs, which would be from 60 to about 150 wolves. Idaho has done a good job managing wolves until now, but Idaho’s Fish and Game Comission and the state’s political leadership (which went backwards in time with the last election) doesn’t like wolves.

Wyoming and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hold “landmark meeting” on Wyoming wolf plan

Huge reduction in wolves could be the outcome of proposal.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service met Monday with Governor Dave Freudental and Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming and others in Cheyenne, to discuss the details of a new plan that would give Wyoming management of all wolves in the state outside of the national parks. The plan would dramatically reduce wolf protection and is expected to lead to the direct killing of many packs of wolves.

Leading the discussion for the federal government was U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall, not Ed Bangs, the Northern Rockies wolf coordinator. Hall, who is the new head of the Service, was widely criticized when he was regional director of the Service in the Southwest for his antagonism toward wolves and ordering biologists his region to avoid using genetic analysis when making decisions about species. Conservation organizations who opposed his nomination said that he had politicized science in the Southwest, a common complaint about the Bush Administration

Story by Jared Miller. Casper Star Tribune.

At the present there are 23 groups of wolves in Wyoming outside Yellowstone Park. Wyoming, and folks in Wyoming would be allowed to reduce this to just seven packs, and they could kill all of the wolves outside of some yet-to-be revealed boundary line in NW Wyoming. Approval of the plan would probably lead to direct aerial gunning down of wolves by the government. This would be relatively easy because, unlike the big wipeout of wolves a hundred years ago, now most packs have at least one radio collar.

To accommodate this, Wyoming legislature still needs to amend their proposed state wolf plan and talks may yet break down. Wyoming’s wolf plan had been rejected by the Service several years ago for its failure to protect wolf recovery. Since then Wyoming has sued several times.

Some folks on this blog have suggested the Ed Bangs was behind this sudden change toward killing off wolves, but the presence of Hall indicates a decision at a higher level. I think a much higher level. This may be a “friendly” settlement of the lawsuit. That means the government backs off of its ability to prevail over Wyoming in the current lawsuit because it no longer believes in recovering wolves. This is what they did with the original lawsuit over the Park Service banning snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park. The Park Service could have easily prevailed, but the new Bush Administration said, “let’s settle out of court.”

Approval of a Wyoming statw wolf plan, would also pave the way for Idaho to reduce its strong wolf population. Many expect the Idaho Fish and Game Commission to eventually put forward a plan to reduce the current 650 wolves to around 150 wolves or 15 packs. Many expect those allowed to remain would reside mostly in the state’s wilderness areas, dramatically reducing opportunities for people to see the wolves (and for the state of protect those that remain).

The article indicates Wyoming expects to be paid to “manage” the wolves, and negotiations may yet break down over that, plus negotiations to further reduce area where wolves will shot on sight.

If this plan is adoptioned, it will be a rapid retreat from recovery. The government’s direction will become maintenance of token populations of wolves outside of Yellowstone and probably Montana, a state has a much more contemporary wolf management plan than Idaho. Because the Endangered Species Act requires recovery, not token populations, what is likely to be proposed may be illegal.