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AUGUST 12, 2010

Idaho, Montana wolves returned to endangered species list

   U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled Aug. 5 against the Obama administration and returned wolves in the Rocky Mountains to the Endangered Species List. That means that hunting seasons in Idaho and Montana will not be allowed to continue.

   Molloy said leaving wolves listed as endangered in Wyoming while delisting them in Idaho and Montana violates the Endangered Species Act.

   U.S. Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick issued the following statement after learning of Judge Donald Molloy’s decision to return wolves in the Rocky Mountains to the Endangered Species List: “This decision is disappointing. Judge Molloy ignored the exploding population of wolves in Idaho and the constitutional 10th Amendment right of a state to manage its own wildlife populations. The recovery goals set when the wolf was introduced have been met and greatly exceeded. We remain convinced Idaho can manage wolves in a sustainable and responsible way, just as it has done with other species for decades. We look for a more reasonable decision from a higher court.”

   Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued this statement on the judge’s decision to return gray wolves in Idaho to the Endangered Species list: “I am thoroughly disappointed and frustrated with the court’s decision today returning wolves to federal protection. Idaho has done everything asked of us by the federal government in order to delist wolves in our state and restore state management. The State of Idaho, through the Office of Species Conservation and Department of Fish and Game, proved to be an effective and responsible steward of the species under a plan praised by this very court.

   “This judge has inexplicably dismissed a practical, common-sense solution and proven the Endangered Species Act is irreparably broken. The number of wolves in Idaho today is almost triple the population necessary for delisting throughout all three states. I don’t know why any state would ever allow another reintroduction of a species because the federal government and radical environmentalists simply cannot live up to their word and allow state management.

   “Rest assured we will exhaust all of our options to legally reverse this ill-advised decision. Today’s decision should stand as an indictment of both the ESA and federal government.”

   Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland Aug. 6 issued the following statement regarding the decision:

   “For more than 15 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, tribes, conservation organizations, ranchers and other landowners have worked hard to recover gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Our collective efforts have brought this population to the point where it no longer requires Endangered Species Act protection.

   “Despite this extraordinary success, today’s ruling means that until Wyoming brings its wolf management program into alignment with those of Idaho and Montana, the wolf will remain under the protection of the Endangered Species Act throughout the northern Rocky Mountains.   Since wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are now again subject to ESA protection, in the days ahead we will work closely with Idaho and Montana to explore all appropriate options for managing wolves in those states.

   “Reintroduced from Canada, in the mid-1990s, to remote areas of central Idaho and Yellowstone National Park, the wolf population flourished and reached sustainable recovery levels as early as 2002. It has continued to grow and has now far surpassed these recovery plan targets.

   “The Service’s decision to delist the wolf in Idaho and Montana reflected the strong commitments from the states of Idaho and Montana to manage gray wolves in a sustainable manner. Today’s ruling makes it clear this wolf population cannot be delisted until the State of Wyoming has instituted an adequate management program, similar to those of Idaho and Montana.

   “In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the states, tribes, conservation organizations, and ranchers and other landowners to manage wolves and ensure the species continues to thrive and coexist with livestock, other wildlife populations, and people.”

Federal protection reinstated for Idaho wolves

By Ed Mitchell, IDFG

   With gray wolves in Idaho back on the endangered species list, Idaho Fish and Game will continue with its non-hunting season wolf management.

   Fish and Game biologists will continue tracking and monitoring wolves and working with federal officials to prevent livestock depredation, Deputy Director Jim Unsworth said in a news conference Aug. 6.

   "Idaho Fish and Game is disappointed with the federal court decision that places gray wolves back on the Endangered Species list," Unsworth said. "The same stewardship Fish and Game provides for other game species will not be applied to wolves as a result of this ruling."

   Plans for wolf hunting seasons have been suspended and holders of 2010 wolf tags may be eligible for refunds. The policy and refund request form are available from Fish and Game offices or on the Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.

   Fish and Game also plans to submit proposals the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wolf control actions in the Lolo elk zone and is considering control actions in other elk zones. Officials are going over options for legal actions that could restore regulated wolf hunting in Idaho, and they are looking into the possibility of wolf hunts even while wolves are on the Endangered Species list.

   U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula issued an order Thursday, August 5, that in effect returns the gray wolf in Idaho and the Northern Rocky Mountains to the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

   Wolves south of Interstate 90 in Idaho have reverted to management under a section of the Endangered Species Act known as the 10(j) rule, allowing some flexibility to respond to livestock depredation and impacts on big game. Wolves north of Interstate 90 in Idaho are fully protected under the Endangered Species Act.

   Simply put, the 10(j) rule allows states and tribes with approved wolf management plans to manage these wolves to ensure the health of wild elk and deer herds and to protect private property.

   The rule also allows individuals on private or public land to kill a wolf that is in the act of attacking their stock animals or dogs, except land north of Interstate 90 in Idaho, or land administered by the National Park Service, and provided there is no evidence of intentional baiting, feeding or deliberate attractants of wolves.

   Idaho still must follow the rule of law, and we will look at all legal options to see what the best way out of this mess is. Fish and Game still will work to resolve conflicts between wolves and other game animals, including proposals to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for wolf control actions to protect dwindling game herds and reduce livestock predation.

   At the end of 2009, officials estimate the minimum population in Idaho was 835 wolves - officials say the minimum population estimate at the end of this year would be about 1,000 without hunting.

   The ruling sets aside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2009 decision to remove gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains from the endangered species list. The judge's order is available here: http://fishand game.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/wolves/.