5 May 2010, 10:52pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

Wolf recovery target has changed, feds acknowledge

Moving the goalposts is necessary to keep pace with science, they say.

By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide, May 5, 2010 [here]

Part one of a two-part series. Next week: positions of different conservation and sportsmen’s groups – Eds.

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official answered allegations from hunters and outfitters Tuesday by acknowledging that the agency has changed the goal for wolf recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains to keep up with the best available science.

The statement from Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator, comes before U.S. District Judge from Montana Donald Molloy is scheduled to hear arguments June 15 in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups over taking wolves off the Endangered Species List.

U.S. District Judge Allen Johnson in Cheyenne is presiding over another wolf delisting case brought by the state of Wyoming.

Fish and Wildlife Service biologists are required to change recovery goals for endangered species when necessary, Bangs said in a telephone interview from his office in Helena, Mont.

“The bottom line is, by law, the Fish and Wildlife Service is required to use the best available science,” he said. “We’re mandated if there’s new information that indicates the recovery goal should be lower or higher to look at that.

“If you don’t [change goals based on current science] you automatically will lose if it’s challenged [in court],” Bangs said. “There’s been a ton of research. We’re constantly reviewing the literature.”

Under the Endangered Species Act, a species that is in trouble can be restored and removed from federal protection once biological criteria are met. Sixty-six wolves were transplanted from Canada to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996.

The recovery goal has changed several times since the original 1987 proposal for a total of 30 breeding pairs in three locations in the northern Rocky Mountains – central Idaho, Greater Yellowstone and northwest Montana. Those changes include a more stringent definition of a breeding pair and a buffer, implemented by Bangs, that requires 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves in each of the three states to ensure that populations don’t fall below the recovery goal of 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves in the entire region.

Today there are an estimated 1,702 wolves in 242 wolf packs and 115 breeding pairs in the central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone areas and in northern Montana, where they recolonized naturally. …

“People will argue that the recovery goal should be higher,” he said. “That’s a moral judgement. A population of 45 breeding pairs and 450 wolves will never be threatened. The recovery goal is a population that will never be threatened again.” …

Bob Wharff, Wyoming executive director for Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, a group that advocates hunting wolves, said the changing recovery goal is “one of the big sticking points with our group.”

“The goalposts continue to move,” he said. “It appeared to me that everyone agreed to specific terms.” …

Wharff largely blames environmental groups.

“There was an agreement,” he said. “Environmental groups, they’re the ones who agreed to 300 wolves as a minimum, and now they’re saying anywhere from 5,000 to 6,000 wolves. That’s not sustainable.”

B.J. Hill, an outfitter who has organized rallies to promote hunting wolves, agreed.

“That’s how we’ve all felt,” he said of Wharff’s comments. “The feds accepted [the Wyoming wolf management] plan when we first introduced it to them. Then the environmental groups came along with their pressure. I think if they had stayed out of it, we’d be hunting wolves. We’ve got to get this thing fixed, because the resources are getting worked over.”

Suzanne Stone, northern Rockies representative for Defenders of Wildlife, said … the latest research shows the need for a three-state connected wolf population that consists of at least 2,000 animals … [more]

6 May 2010, 6:39pm
by admin


For an excellent analysis by the salubrious Tom Remington, see:

Feds Change Wolf Rules To Fit Agenda. Moving Goal Posts “Mandated” [here]

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