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ID Wolf Success Story Heads to Court

February 22, 2008

Boise, ID – Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains are off the endangered species list and looking into the barrel of a gun. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially delisted the gray wolf Thursday, which clears the way for hunting seasons as soon as this fall.

Gray wolves rebounded from near-extinction in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana in just 13 years, and some 1,500 of the animals now roam those states. Derek Goldman with the Endangered Species Coalition says the recovery shows the value of protecting the animals.

"The return of the gray wolf is on its way to becoming a great success story of the Endangered Species Act, and a great feat of ecological restoration."

Goldman warns that the delisting isn't the end of the story, however. Groups like his are going to court to try to keep the wolves listed, because they think states' plans are inadequate to assure the animals don't face extinction again. In fact, Idaho already has a plan drawn up to reduce its wolf numbers, due to concerns that the predators affect big game herds and livestock.

Goldman's group expected hunting seasons for wolves to accompany the delisting, but he contends that the aggressive plan Idaho has drawn up will isolate wolf populations, and inbreeding could doom them.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should really be holding the states' feet to the fire to develop sound and balanced management plans for wolves."

Deborah Smith/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ID