Montana Seeking Public Comment on Gray Wolf

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A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service proposal to delist the northern Rocky Mountain's gray wolves may mean that changes in wolf management are in store for Montana. The public has until April 6 to comment.

Currently, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has a federally approved wolf management agreement that gives Montana the authority to monitor wolf populations, ensure human safety, help landowners reduce livestock-depredation risks and resolve conflicts and manage wolf numbers and distribution.

However, while wolves are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), they remain under two different sets of federal regulations in Montana. These regulations provide guidelines for what lethal and non-lethal tools landowners and others can use to protect livestock and domestic animals from wolves. Hunting is prohibited under federal regulations.

If wolves are delisted, FWP will implement its full management plan, and wolves would be reclassified as a species in need of management. The plan calls for maintaining at least 15 breeding pairs of wolves in Montana. Above that number, harvest seasons to adjust wolf numbers and distribution may be implemented, similar to how Montana's other wildlife is managed. Below the 15 breeding pairs benchmark, regulations would be more restrictive. Montanans statewide would also have more tools available to protect livestock and domestic animals from wolves.

The proposal to delist wolves in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming—and parts of Washington and Utah—is based on the USFWS's determination that the Rocky Mountain population has exceeded recovery goals and all potential threats to it, except inadequate state regulations in northwestern Wyoming, have been resolved.

Comments on the proposed delisting can be sent via email to NRMGrayWolf@fws.gov; through mail to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wolf Delisting, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, MT 59601. Comments will be accepted through April 6 with the possibility that the comment deadline may be extended through early May. For more information on the federal proposal, visit www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/.