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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Initiate Status Review of Gray Wolves in Western U.S.

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that they have completed the initial review of two petitions filed to list gray wolves in the western U.S. as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The USFWS finds that the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and will initiate a comprehensive status review of the gray wolf in the western U.S.  

Under the ESA, a DPS is a portion of a species’ or subspecies’ population or range and is described geographically instead of biologic ally. The first petition proposes listing a Northern Rocky Mountain DPS consisting of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon, and a small portion of north-central Utah. Both petitions also propose some alternative Western U.S. DPS to include all, or part, of the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS states with the addition of California, Colorado, Nevada, and in one petition, northern Arizona.

USFWS finds the petitioners present substantial information that potential increases in human-caused mortality may pose a threat to the gray wolf in the western U.S. USFWS also finds that new regulatory mechanisms in Idaho and Montana may be inadequate to address this threat. Therefore, USFWS finds that gray wolves in the western U.S. may warrant listing.

The next steps for the USFWS include in-depth status reviews and analyses using the best available science and information to arrive at a 12-month finding on whether listing is warranted.  If so, listing a species is done through a separate rulemaking process, with public notice and comment.

By issuing this announcement, USFWS is acknowledging that gray wolves in the west face grave challenges. But how many wolves will die within this 12-month period?

Updates to follow.