Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
CONTACT: Hugh Vickery (202) 501-4633
|For Immediate Release: July 16, 2004||
Georgia Parham (920) 866-1717
Norton Announces Proposal to Remove Eastern Population of Gray Wolves from Endangered Species List
(MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.) -- Three decades after gray wolves were nearly extinct in the lower 48 states, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced today that the Eastern Population Segment of gray wolves has recovered to the point where it can be proposed for removal from the list of threatened and endangered species.
Wolves in the Eastern Population
Segment, located in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin, have climbed
beyond the population criteria set out in the species' recovery plan,
Norton said. The three states have management plans in place to ensure
the species' long-term survival.
The two other populations
of gray wolves in the lower 48 states - the western population located
in the Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Wyoming and Montana and the southwestern
population of Mexican gray wolves - will continue to be listed under
"Thirty years ago, the
future of the gray wolf in the United States outside of Alaska was anything
but certain," Norton said. "Today we celebrate not only the
remarkable comeback of the gray wolf, but the partnerships, dedicated
efforts and spirit of conservation that have made this success story
The Eastern DPS extends from
the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas to the East Coast. The southern boundary
includes Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey,
and its northern boundary is the Canadian border. The proposal does
not affect red wolves in the southeastern U.S., which are also listed
by the Endangered Species Act. The requirements of the Act will remain
in effect for wolves in the Eastern DPS until the proposal is finalized.
"The effort to save an endangered predator such as the gray wolf carries with it special challenges and obstacles," said Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. "We chose a path that had recovery as its ultimate goal, but we used the flexibility under the Endangered Species Act to accommodate the needs of people who are most affected by the wolf's comeback. The fact that we are successful is a testimony to the dedicated efforts of our biologists and all the partners who worked so hard to ensure the gray wolf has a place in our world."
"The north woods of
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are healthier ecosystems because of
the presence of wolves," said Steve Williams, Director of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service. "These animals provide a living laboratory
to study how a top predator affects plants and animals within the entire
Occasional gray wolves have
been spotted in the Dakotas. There is no sign, however, that a population
has become established in the Dakotas. Individual wolves dispersing
from packs in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin have turned up in Missouri,
Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska, but there is no evidence of reproducing
packs in these areas.
Once removed from the endangered
and threatened species list, gray wolves in the Eastern DPS will be
managed by states and tribes. The Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
Departments of Natural Resources have developed plans to guide wolf
management actions in the future. Issues such as control of problem
animals, hunting and trapping, as well as long-term health of the wolf
population, will be governed by the appropriate state or tribe.
The Service will continue
to monitor gray wolf populations in the Eastern DPS for at least five
years after delisting. The Service's proposal to remove gray wolves
in the Eastern DPS from the endangered and threatened species list is
available for review.
Comments will be accepted
for 120 days after the proposed rule is published. A series of public
hearings will be held throughout the Eastern DPS. The Service will announce
details of these hearings in the near future. Following the public comment
period, the Service will evaluate all information and make a decision
on whether to finalize the proposal. Until a final decision is made,
wolves in the Eastern DPS remain threatened and protected under the
Endangered Species Act.
Comments on the proposal
to remove gray wolves in the Eastern DPS from the Federal list of endangered
and threatened species may be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org;
by sending a letter to Gray Wolf Delist - Eastern Distinct Population
Segment, c/o Content Analysis Team, P.O. Box 221150, Salt Lake City,
Utah 84122-1150; by sending a fax to (801)517-1014; or through the Federal
eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
In the event that our internet connection is not functional, comments
should be mailed or sent by fax.
For more information on the
Service's proposal, the status of wolves and wolf recovery in the Eastern
United States, visit the Service's website at http://midwest.fws.gov
In the event that our internet connection is not functional, contact:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gray Wolf Review, 1 Federal Drive, Fort
Snelling, MN 55111-4056 or call the Service's Gray Wolf Information
Line at 612-713-7337. This phone line is for information requests only;
comments on the proposal made by phone will not be accepted.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving,
protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats
for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages
the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses
544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other
special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries,
63 Fish and Wildlife Management offices and 81 ecological services field
stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes
hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting
equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.
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