Feds Delay Wolf Delisting
by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
February 13, 2014
Following successful recovery efforts in the Northern Rocky Mountains ("NRM") and the western Great Lakes regions, in June 2013 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposed to remove the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species throughout the remainder of the United States and Mexico, while maintaining protection for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest. This action has no impact on the NRM population (wolves in Wyoming were turned over to state wildlife managers back in September 2012).
FWS proposed two sets of rules in June 2013 – one that would maintain protection and expand recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) in the Southwest, where it remains endangered, and the second rule that would delist wolves in other regions of the United States.
But last week, FWS decided to reopen the comment period on the wolf proposal because an independent review panel cast doubt on the agency's use of the required best available science – in fact, panel members were unanimous in their belief that the proposed rule does not currently represent the best available science.
The independent scientific peer review was hosted and managed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), a highly respected interdisciplinary research center at the University of California – Santa Barbara. At the Service’s request, NCEAS sponsored and conducted a peer review of the science underlying the Service’s proposal.
"Peer review is an important step in our efforts to assure that the final decision on our proposal to delist the wolf is based on the best available scientific and technical information," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "We thank the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis for conducting a transparent, objective and well-documented process. We are incorporating the peer review report into the public record for the proposed rulemaking, and accordingly, reopening the public comment period to provide the public with the opportunity for input."
The peer review report is available online, along with instructions on how to provide comment and comprehensive links relating to the proposal, at www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery.
The Service intends that any final action resulting from this proposed rule will be based on the best available information. The Service expects to make final determination on the proposal by the end of 2014.