For Immediate Release: August 25, 2021
Contacts: Derek Goldman, Endangered Species Coalition, 406-370-6491
Jonathan Oppenheimer, Idaho Conservation League, 208-867-3505
Conservation Groups Urge Federal Review, Oversight of Gray Wolves in Montana, Idaho
Missoula, Mont. – Today, the Idaho Conservation League and the Endangered Species Coalition sent a letter urging Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Principal Deputy Director Martha Williams to initiate a formal examination of new threats to wolves in the Northern Rockies states of Montana and Idaho.
The letter cites criteria in the 2009 Northern Rocky Mountain wolf delisting rule that prompt a USFWS status review of gray wolves when changes to wolf management or policy “significantly increase the threat” to the wolf population. The letter also requests the immediate issuance of a new “post-delisting monitoring period”—a clause of the Endangered Species Act that requires more stringent oversight of state management for recently-delisted species.
This past spring, legislatures in Idaho and Montana passed bills that expand hunting and trapping which will likely result in a significant reduction to the wolf populations in each state. For the first time, lethal neck snares, baiting and night-hunting with high-tech optics will be allowed in Montana. In Idaho, the legislature removed bag limits, allowing individual hunters and trappers to kill an unlimited number of wolves, year-round, while pursuing them with dogs or on vehicles.
“Legislation allowing lethal neck snares, baiting and wolf bounties is excessive, and is out of touch with the way Montanans and Idahoans want to see wolves managed,” said Derek Goldman, Northern Rockies Representative for the Endangered Species Coalition. “With these new, extreme wolf-killing measures, the states are reneging on the management plans they agreed to, and the Service has a duty now to step back in and hold the states accountable.”
“The Idaho Legislature implemented significant changes to wolf management in Idaho over objections from the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and others. As a result of their actions, they are inviting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to play a more active role in wolf management,” said Jonathan Oppenheimer, External Relations Director with the Idaho Conservation League.
The letter sent today to the USFWS concludes:
Taken together, the changes made to wolf management in both Montana and Idaho represent a shift, and present a significant risk to wolf populations in each state. These legislative changes constitute a stark departure from the USFWS-approved management plans in each state. Therefore, consistent with the 2009 delisting rule, we hereby request that the USFWS initiate a status review and immediately place the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf DPS under a post-monitoring period, as described above.