The federal government placed gray wolves on the list in 1974. Now that they’re off the list, individual state governments will be able to determine their own management plans for the wolves. States such as Idaho and Wyoming hope to begin hunting the wolves again, due to pressure from ranchers whose livestock is hunted. However, the wolves remain endangered in Wyoming, due to the federal government’s denial of Wyoming’s proposed “predator zone” plans. This would allow licensed individuals to shoot wolves on sight. The government’s not so sure that’s a great plan yet.
Some regard the de-listing as a negative; conservation groups plan to sue the federal government to overturn the ruling. Others view it as a success story of a reborn population. Regardless of opinion, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar stated that he was “confident that science justifies the de-listing of the gray wolf.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, gray wolves number 1,645 in 217 packs. They estimate that 500 pups had been born in April 2009. The numbers exceeded their expectations at the commencement of the recovery plan. Additionally, states will be responsible for advancing population numbers. Montana, Idaho and Wyoming must manage a minimum of 15 breeding pairs and at least 100 adults to ensure a total population minimum of 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves among the three states. If state management and strict hunting regulations don’t work, the federal government reserves the right to step back in and re-list the wolves. No matter how you look at it, the wolves are back and will hopefully persevere.
– Adrienne Saia Isaac
Washington Post: Wolves No Longer Protected in Northern Rockies
Fish and Wildlife Service: Gray Wolf page