Bangs says recovery population goal for wolves in the Northern Rockies was changed-
Anti-wolf folks argue that a population goal deal (or promise) was violated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it did not delist wolves in the Idaho, Montana and Wyoming as soon as the states had 300 wolves in total. Project leader, Ed Bangs, however, said agency changed the goal to keep up with the best available science.
The 1987 goal (years before the wolf reintroduction actually took place) was 30 breeding pairs of wolves spread out over the three states. After reintroduction this was changed to 15 breeding pairs in each of the states and a population of at least 150 wolves in each state. Bangs said that science showed the 1987 goal was too lean. He said understood that as soon as he took the job he now holds.
Anti-wolf groups have criticized pro-wolf wolf groups for going back on a deal, but there was no meeting, signing ceremony, or document where pro-wolf groups signed or were even asked to sign or support any document or goal. These groups didn’t even know if there would be an Idaho wolf reintroduction until a few months before the reintroduction took place.
Today there are about 1700 wolves and 115 breeding pairs. A rule of thumb has been developed that one breeding pair of wolves requires about 14 wolves on the ground. Using the rule of thumb, that is about 650 wolves. A few pro wolf group groups have suggested 5000 wolves are needed. This provides a lot of propaganda value for anti-wolf groups.
My view is that for a stable, solid wolf recovery, a widespread distribution of wolves (packs beyond those parts of of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming where wolves are currently tolerated) is much more important than wolf population numbers. That means I don’t like the current delisting criteria.
Story in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. Wolf recovery target has changed, feds acknowledge. Moving the goalposts is necessary to keep pace with science, they say. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
May 5, 2010