Salt Lake City, Utah: The Mule Deer Foundation thanks Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Aurelia Skipwith for today’s decision to delist the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. Wolves are well established now throughout the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes states. In Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming, wolves are already managed by state fish and wildlife agencies and populations continue to expand. Today’s announcement proves how the Endangered Species Act can work to stabilize wildlife populations and then hand management back to states when species are successfully recovered.
“We thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their announcement today to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act throughout its range in the United States,” said Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO Miles Moretti. “Through the effective management by the FWS and state fish and wildlife agencies, wolf populations have recovered and are expanding well beyond the original recovery area. This shows the success of the ESA and how cooperation between the states, federal government, and other partners can effectively recover a species so that it can be delisted.”
Gray wolves were extirpated from most of the lower 48 states by the mid-1900s and were listed as endangered in the 1970s. At the time, Minnesota had about 1,200 wolves and this was the only remaining U.S. population outside of Alaska. Starting in the 1990s, the Great Lakes states began their recovery efforts and wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996. Recovery goals were met in both the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes populations by about 2010 and the FWS has attempted to delist the animals a number of times. Wolves are currently delisted in the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming and these states have shown that they can continue to manage populations well above recovery goals. In the lower 48 states, gray wolf populations are now estimated at 6,000 individuals with established packs found in 10 states and an additional nine states have confirmed sightings of dispersing animals.
“Gray wolf recovery is a wildlife conservation success, but it is time for them to be fully removed from the endangered species list and returned to state management. We appreciate today’s decision by the FWS and will continue to work with states to balance wolf management with other species within their public trust authority,” concluded Moretti.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and conserving mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of men, women and youth into the shooting sports and conservation. Get involved in your state or become a member at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.
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