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Wednesday,

February 8, 2006

Part III

Department of the
Interior
Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and
Plants—Gray Wolf; Proposed Rule
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6634 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR ADDRESSES: If you wish to comment, (Carbyn in litt. 2000; Mech in litt. 2000;
you may submit comments and Schmidt 1987, 1991).
Fish and Wildlife Service materials concerning this notice, Wolves primarily prey on medium
identified by ‘‘RIN number 1018– and large mammals. Wild prey species
50 CFR Part 17 AU53,’’ by any of the following in the NRM include white-tailed deer
RIN 1018–AU53 methods: (Odocoileus virginianus), mule deer (O.
1. Federal e-Rulemaking Portal— hemionus), moose (Alces alces), elk
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the (Cervus canadensis), pronghorn
and Plants; Designating the Northern instructions for submitting comments. antelope (Antilocapra americana), bison
Rocky Mountain Population of Gray 2. E-mail—NRMGrayWolf@fws.gov. (Bison bison), bighorn sheep (Ovis
Wolf as a Distinct Population Segment; Include ‘‘RIN number 1018–AU53’’ in canadensis), mountain goat (Oreamnos
Removing the Northern Rocky the subject line of the message. americanus), woodland caribou
Mountain Distinct Population Segment 3. Mail—U.S. Fish and Wildlife (Rangifer caribou), and beaver (Castor
of Gray Wolf From the Federal List of Service, Western Gray Wolf Recovery canadensis). While other small and
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife Coordinator, 585 Shepard Way, Helena, mid-sized mammals, birds, large
Montana 59601. invertebrates, fish, and fruits are
AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, 4. Hand Delivery/Courier—U.S. Fish occasionally eaten, they are rarely
Interior. and Wildlife Service, Western Gray important in the wolf’s diet (Mech and
ACTION: Advanced notice of proposed Wolf Recovery Coordinator, 585 Boitani 2003). Since 1987, wolves in the
rulemaking. Shepard Way, Helena, Montana 59601. NRM also have preyed on domestic
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
animals, including cattle (Bos sp.),
SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and
Edward E. Bangs, Western Gray Wolf sheep (Ovis sp.), llamas (Lama glama),
Wildlife Service (Service), announce our
Recovery Coordinator, U.S. Fish and horses (Equus sp.), goats (Capra sp.),
intention to conduct rulemaking to
Wildlife Service, at our Helena office and dogs (Service et al. 2005).
establish a distinct population segment Wolves have a social structure,
(DPS) of the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in (see ADDRESSES) or telephone (406) 449–
normally living in packs of 2 to 12
the Northern Rocky Mountains of the 5225, extension 204.
animals. Wolf packs are usually family
United States (NRM). The NRM DPS of SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: groups consisting of a breeding pair,
gray wolf encompasses the eastern one- their pups from the current year,
third of Washington and Oregon, a small Background
offspring from previous years, and an
part of north-central Utah, and all of Gray wolves (Canis lupus) are the occasional unrelated wolf. Wolf pack
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. The largest wild members of the dog family structure can be ‘‘complex’’ (multiple
threats to the wolf population in the (Canidae). Adult gray wolves range from generations) or ‘‘simple’’ (breeding pair
NRM DPS have been reduced or 40–175 pounds (lb) (18–80 kilograms and pups). In the NRM, pack sizes
eliminated as evidenced by the [kg]) depending upon sex and region average about 10 wolves in protected
population exceeding the numerical, (Mech 1974). In the NRM, adult male areas, but a few complex packs have
distributional, and temporal recovery gray wolves average over 100 lb (45 kg), been substantially bigger in some areas
goals each year since 2002. The States but may weigh up to 130 lb (60 kg). of Yellowstone National Park (YNP) (D.
of Montana and Idaho have adopted Females weigh slightly less than males. Smith, Yellowstone NPS, pers. comm.,
State laws and State wolf management Wolves’ fur color is frequently a grizzled 2005; Service et al. 2005). In areas
plans that would conserve a recovered gray, but it can vary from pure white to where conflicts with humans and
NRM wolf population within their coal black (Gipson et al. 2003). Wolves livestock are most prevalent, packs are
boundaries into the foreseeable future. may appear similar to coyotes (C. typically smaller and are more likely to
However, we have determined that latrans) and some domestic dog breeds be ‘‘simple.’’ Packs typically occupy
Wyoming State law and its wolf (such as the German shepherd or large distinct territories (200–500 square
management plan do not provide the Siberian husky) (C. familiaris). miles (mi2) (518–1,295 square
necessary regulatory mechanism to However, the gray wolf’s size, long legs, kilometers (km2) and defend these areas
assure that Wyoming’s share of a narrow chest, large feet, wide head and from other wolves or packs. Once a
recovered NRM wolf population will be snout, and straight tail distinguish it given area is occupied by resident wolf
conserved if the ESA’s protections were from both the coyote and dog. packs, it becomes saturated and wolf
removed. Therefore, we intend to Gray wolves have a circumpolar range numbers become regulated by the
conduct a future rulemaking to propose including North America, Europe and amount of available prey, intraspecies
that the gray wolf in the NRM wolf DPS Asia. The only areas within North conflict, other forms of mortality, and
be removed from the List of Threatened America that lacked gray wolf dispersal.
and Endangered Wildlife under the populations prior to European Both male and female yearling wolves
Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA), settlement were southern and interior often disperse from their packs,
as amended, if Wyoming adopts a State Greenland, the coastal regions of although some non-breeding wolves
law and a State wolf management plan Mexico, Central America, coastal and remain with their natal packs for years.
that is approved by the Service. other large parts of California, the Dispersing wolves may cover large areas
Concerns regarding the Wyoming plan extremely arid deserts and as lone animals as they try to join other
would have to be resolved before a NRM mountaintops of the western United packs or attempt to form their own pack
DPS delisting could be finalized. This States, parts of eastern and southeastern in unoccupied habitat. Dispersal
ANPRM is being issued in advance of United States, and possibly southeastern distances in the NRM average about 60
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completion of the 12 month status Canada (Young and Goldman 1944; Hall miles (mi) (97 kilometers (km)), but
review of NRM wolves. This status 1981; Mech 1970; Nowak 1995, 2003; dispersals over 500 mi (805 km) have
review remains in progress. Wilson et al. 2000, 2003; Grewal et al. been documented (Boyd et al. in prep.;
DATES: We request that comments on 2004). Some authorities question the Boyd and Pletscher 1997).
this notice be submitted by the close of reported historical absence of gray Typically, only the top-ranking
business on April 10, 2006. wolves from large parts of California (‘‘alpha’’) male and female in each pack

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules 6635

breed and produce pups (Packard 2003; plan for the NRM population (Service definition of wolf population viability
Smith, pers. comm., 2005; Service et al. 1980; Fritts et al. 1995). The NRM Wolf and recovery (Service 1994) and began
2005). Females and males typically Recovery Plan (Rocky Mountain Plan) using entire States, in addition to
begin breeding as 2-year olds and may was approved in 1980 (Service 1980) recovery areas, to measure progress
annually produce young until they are and revised in 1987 (Service 1987). It towards recovery goals (Service et al.
over 10 years old. Litters are typically specifies a recovery criterion of 10 2002). We have determined that an
born in April and range from 1 to 11 breeding pairs of wolves (defined in essential part of achieving recovery is a
pups, but average around 5 pups 1987 as two wolves of opposite sex and well distributed number of wolf packs
(Service 1992a; Service et al. 2001). adequate age, capable of producing and individual wolves among the three
Most years, 4 of these 5 pups survive offspring) for 3 consecutive years in States and the three recovery zones.
until winter (Service et al. 2005). each of 3 distinct recovery areas—(1) While absolute equitable distribution is
Wolves can live 13 years but the average northwestern Montana (Glacier National not necessary, a well distributed
lifespan in the NRM is about 4 years Park; the Great Bear, Bob Marshall, and population with no one State
(Smith, pers. comm., 2005). Pups are Lincoln Scapegoat Wilderness Areas; maintaining a disproportionately low
raised by the entire pack. If alphas are and adjacent public lands), (2) central number of packs or number of
lost when pups are very young, other Idaho (Selway-Bitterroot, Gospel Hump, individual wolves is needed.
pack members or even a single adult can Frank Church River of No Return, and Fostering Recovery—In 1982, a wolf
successfully raise them (Boyd and Sawtooth Wilderness Areas; and pack from Canada began to occupy
Jimenez 1994; Brainerd et al. in prep.). adjacent, mostly Federal, lands), and (3) Glacier National Park along the United
Pup production and survival can the Yellowstone National Park (YNP) States Canada border. In 1986, the first
increase when wolf density is lower and area (including the Absaroka-Beartooth, litter of pups documented in over 50
food availability per wolf increases North Absaroka, Washakie, and Teton years was born in the Park (Ream et al.
(Fuller et al. 2003). Breeding members Wilderness Areas; and adjacent public 1989). Also in 1986, a pack denned just
also can be quickly replaced either from lands). The Rocky Mountain Plan states east of the Park on the Blackfeet
within or outside the pack (Packard that if 2 recovery areas maintain 10 Reservation, but was not detected until
2003; Brainerd et al. in prep.). breeding pairs for 3 successive years, 1987, when they began to depredate
Consequently, wolf populations can gray wolves in the NRM can be livestock (Bangs et al. 1995). The
rapidly recover from severe disruptions, reclassified to threatened status. It also number of wolves resulting from this
such as very high levels of human- states that if all 3 recovery areas ‘‘natural’’ recovery in northwestern
caused mortality or disease. After severe maintain 10 breeding pairs for 3 Montana steadily increased for the next
declines, wolf populations can more successive years, the NRM wolf decade (Service et al. 2005).
than double in just 2 years if mortality population can be considered fully In 1995 and 1996, we reintroduced
is reduced; increases of nearly 100 recovered and can be considered for wolves from southwestern Canada to
percent per year have been documented delisting. remote public lands in central Idaho
in low-density suitable habitat (Fuller et The 1994 environmental impact and YNP (Bangs and Fritts 1996; Fritts
al. 2003; Smith, pers. comm., 2005; statement (EIS) reviewed wolf recovery et al. 1997; Bangs et al. 1998). These
Service et al. 2005). in the NRM and the adequacy of the wolves were classified as nonessential
recovery goals (Service 1994). The EIS experimental populations under section
Recovery indicated that the 1987 recovery goal 10(j) of the ESA to increase management
Background—As Europeans began was, at best, a minimal recovery goal, flexibility and address local and State
settling the United States, they and that modifications were warranted concerns (59 FR 60252 and 60266,
poisoned, trapped, and shot wolves, on the basis of more recent information November 22, 1994). This
causing this once widespread species to about wolf distribution, connectivity, reintroduction and accompanying
be eradicated from most of its range in and numbers. This review concluded management programs greatly expanded
the 48 conterminous States (Mech 1970; that as a minimum the recovery goal the numbers and distribution of wolves
McIntyre 1995). Gray wolf populations should be, ‘‘Thirty or more breeding in the NRM. Because of the
were eliminated from Montana, Idaho, pairs (i.e., an adult male and an adult reintroduction, wolves soon became
and Wyoming, as well as adjacent female wolf that have produced at least established throughout central Idaho
southwestern Canada by the 1930s 2 pups that survived until December 31 and the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA)
(Young and Goldman 1944). Thereafter, of the year of their birth, during the (Bangs et al. 1998; Service et al. 2005).
only isolated observations of previous breeding season) comprising Monitoring and Managing Recovery—
individuals and non-breeding pairs some +300 wolves in a metapopulation By 1989, we formed an interagency wolf
were reported in the area (Ream and (a population that exists as partially working group (Working Group),
Mattson 1982; Weaver 1978). After isolated sets of subpopulations) (Service composed of Federal, State, and tribal
human-caused mortality of wolves in 1994) with genetic exchange between agency personnel (Bangs 1991; Fritts et
southwestern Canada was regulated in subpopulations should have a high al. 1995; Service 1989). The Working
the 1960s, populations expanded probability of long-term persistence.’’ Group, whose membership has evolved
southward (Carbyn 1983, Pletscher et al. We conducted another review of what as wolf range has expanded, conducted
1991). Dispersing individuals constitutes a recovered wolf population 4 basic recovery tasks, in addition to the
occasionally reached the NRM (Ream in late 2001 and early 2002 (Bangs standard enforcement functions
and Mattson 1982; Nowak 1983), but 2002). Relevant literature was reviewed associated with the take of a listed
lacked legal protection there until 1974 (Fritts et al. 1994; Fritts and Carbyn species. These tasks were—(1) monitor
when they were listed as endangered 1995), and responses were received and wolf distribution and numbers; (2)
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under the ESA (39 FR 1171, January 4, evaluated from 50 of 88 experts control wolves that attacked livestock
1974). contacted. This review showed that by moving and other non-lethal
Recovery Planning and the Selection there is a wide variety of professional measures or by killing them; (3) conduct
of Recovery Criteria—Shortly after opinion about wolf population viability. research on wolf relationships to
listing we formed the interagency wolf Based on the review, we adopted the ungulate prey, other carnivores and
recovery team to complete a recovery 1994 EIS’s more relevant and stringent scavengers, livestock, and people; and

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6636 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

(4) provide accurate science-based population size and trends, as well as wolves; Wyoming attained 18 breeding
information to the public through distributional information. pairs and approximately 217 wolves;
reports and mass media so that people At the end of 2000, the NRM and Idaho attained 14 breeding pairs
could develop their opinions about population first met its numerical and and 216 wolves. In 2003, Montana
wolves and wolf management from an distributional recovery goal of a attained 10 breeding pairs and
informed perspective (Service et al. minimum of 30 ‘‘breeding pairs’’ and approximately 182 wolves; Wyoming
1989–2005). over 300 wolves well-distributed among attained 16 breeding pairs and
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming (68 FR approximately 234 wolves; and Idaho
The size and distribution of the wolf 15804, April 1, 2003; Service et al.
population is estimated by the Working attained 25 breeding pairs and 345
2003). That year, Montana attained 8 wolves. In 2004, Montana attained 15
Group each year and, along with other breeding pairs and approximately 97
information, is published in interagency breeding pairs and approximately 153
wolves; Wyoming attained 12 breeding wolves; Wyoming attained 24 breeding
annual and weekly reports (Service et pairs and approximately 153 wolves;
al. 1989–2005; Service 1998–2005). pairs and approximately 260 wolves;
and Idaho attained 10 breeding pairs
Since the early 1980s, the Service and and Idaho attained 27 breeding pairs
and 187 wolves. This minimum
our cooperating partners have radio- and 422 wolves. Figure 1 illustrates wolf
recovery goal was attainted or exceeded
collared and monitored over 716 wolves population trends by State from 1979 to
in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. In 2001,
in the NRM to assess population status, Montana attained 7 breeding pairs and 2004. Official population estimates for
conduct research, and to reduce/resolve approximately 123 wolves; Wyoming 2005 are not yet available.
conflicts with livestock. The Work attained 13 breeding pairs and The following section discusses
Group’s annual population estimates approximately 189 wolves; and Idaho recovery within each of the three major
represent the best scientific and attained 14 breeding pairs and 251 recovery areas. Because the recovery
commercial information available wolves. In 2002, Montana attained 17 areas cross State lines, the population
regarding year-end NRM gray wolf breeding pairs and approximately 183 estimates sum differently.
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Recovery in the Northwestern habitat and the interagency recovery pairs. However, since 1997 the number
Montana Recovery Area—Reproduction program combined to effectively of breeding groups and number of
first occurred in northwestern Montana promote an increase in wolf numbers. wolves has fluctuated widely, varying
in 1986. The natural ability of wolves to By 1996, the number of wolves had from 4–12 breeding pairs and from 49–
find and quickly recolonize empty grown to about 70 wolves in 7 breeding 108 wolves (Service et al. 2005). Our
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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules 6637

1998 estimate was a minimum of 49 population continues to persist (see among packs appears to be limiting
wolves in 5 breeding pairs. In 1999, and Factor D). population density; (3) there are fewer
again in 2000, 6 breeding pairs Recovery in the Central Idaho elk than when reintroduction took place
produced pups, and the northwestern Recovery Area—In January 1995, 15 (White and Garrott 2006; Vucetich et al.
Montana population increased to about young adult wolves were captured in 2005); and, (4) a suspected, but as yet
63 wolves. In 2001, we estimated that 84 Alberta, Canada, and released by the unconfirmed, outbreak of canine
wolves in 7 breeding pairs occurred; in Service in central Idaho (Bangs and parvovirus (CPV) or canine distemper,
2002, there were an estimated 108 Fritts 1996; Fritts et al. 1997; Bangs et reduced pup survival in 2005.
wolves in 12 breeding pairs; in 2003, al. 1998). In January 1996, an additional Additional significant growth in the
there were an estimated 92 wolves in 4 20 wolves from British Columbia were YNP portion of the Wyoming wolf
breeding pairs; and in 2004, there were released. Central Idaho contains the population is unlikely because suitable
an estimated 59 wolves in 6 breeding greatest amount of highly suitable wolf wolf habitat is saturated with resident
pairs (Service et al. 2002, 2003, 2004, habitat compared to either northwestern wolf packs. Wolf recovery in the GYA
2005). (See Figure 1.) Montana or the GYA (Oakleaf et al. in segment of the NRM wolf DPS will
The likely reasons for the lack of press). In 1998, the central Idaho wolf likely depend on wolf packs living
further growth are that suitable wolf population consisted of a minimum of outside YNP in Wyoming.
habitat in northwestern Montana is 114 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs In conclusion, having attained or
limited and wolf packs there are at a (Bangs et al. 1998). By 1999, it had exceeded the minimum numerical and
local social and biological carrying grown to about 141 wolves in 10 distributional recovery goals for five
capacity. Some of the variation in our breeding pairs. By 2000, this population consecutive years, the NRM wolf
wolf population estimates for had 192 wolves in 10 breeding pairs and population has now achieved the
northwestern Montana is due to the by 2001 it had climbed to about 261 biological criteria necessary for a viable
difficulty of counting wolves in its’ wolves in 14 breeding pairs (Service et and recovered wolf population.
thick forests. Wolves in northwestern al. 2002). In 2002, there were 284
Previous Federal Action
Montana prey mainly on white-tailed wolves in 14 breeding pairs; in 2003,
there were 368 wolves in 26 breeding In 1974, four subspecies of gray wolf
deer and pack size is smaller, which were listed as endangered including the
also makes packs more difficult to pairs; and by the end of 2004, there
were 452 wolves in 30 breeding pairs NRM gray wolf (Canis lupus irremotus);
detect (Bangs et al. 1998). It appears that the eastern timber wolf (C. l. lycaon) in
wolf numbers in northwestern Montana (Service et al. 2003, 2004, 2005) (Figure
1). the northern Great Lakes region; the
are likely to fluctuate around 100 Mexican wolf (C. l. baileyi) in Mexico
Recovery in the Greater Yellowstone
wolves. Since 2001, this area has and the southwestern United States; and
Area—In 1995, 14 wolves from Alberta,
maintained an average of nearly 86 the Texas gray wolf (C. l. monstrabilis)
representing 3 family groups, were
wolves and about 7 packs. of Texas and Mexico (39 FR 1171,
released in YNP (Bangs and Fritts 1996;
Northwestern Montana wolves are Fritts et al. 1997; Phillips and Smith January 4, 1974). In 1978, we published
demographically and genetically linked 1997). Two of the 3 groups produced a rule (43 FR 9607, March 9, 1978)
to both the wolf population in Canada young in late April. In 1996, this relisting the gray wolf as endangered at
and to central Idaho (Pletscher et al. procedure was repeated with 17 wolves the species level (C. lupus) throughout
1991; Boyd and Pletscher 1997). Wolf from British Columbia, representing 4 the conterminous 48 States and Mexico,
dispersal into northwestern Montana family groups. Two of the groups except for Minnesota, where the gray
from both directions will continue to produced pups in late April. Finally, 10 wolf was reclassified to threatened. At
supplement this segment of the overall five-month old pups removed from that time, critical habitat was designated
wolf population, both demographically northwestern Montana, were released in in Minnesota and Isle Royale, Michigan.
and genetically (Boyd et al. in prep.; YNP in the spring of 1997. On November 22, 1994, we designated
Forbes and Boyd 1996, 1997; Boyd et al. By 1998, the wolves had expanded unoccupied portions of Idaho, Montana,
1995). from YNP to the GYA and the and Wyoming as two nonessential
Wolf conflicts with livestock have population consisted of 112 wolves, experimental population areas for the
fluctuated with wolf population size including 6 breeding pairs that gray wolf under section 10(j) of the ESA.
and prey population density (Service et produced 10 litters of pups. The 1999 The Yellowstone Experimental
al. 2005). For example, in 1997, population consisted of 118 wolves, Population Area consists of that portion
immediately following a severe winter including 8 breeding pairs. In 2000, the of Idaho east of Interstate 15; that
that reduced white-tailed deer GYA had 177 wolves, including 14 portion of Montana that is east of
populations in northwestern Montana, breeding pairs, and there were 218 Interstate 15 and south of the Missouri
wolf conflicts with livestock increased wolves, including 13 breeding pairs, in River from Great Falls, Montana, to the
dramatically and the wolf population 2001 (Service et al. 2002). In 2002, there eastern Montana border; and all of
declined (Bangs et al. 1998). Wolf were an estimated 271 wolves in 23 Wyoming (59 FR 60252, November 22,
numbers increased as wild prey breeding pairs; in 2003, there were an 1994). The Central Idaho Experimental
numbers rebounded. Unlike YNP or the estimated 301 wolves in 21 breeding Population Area consists of that portion
central Idaho Wilderness, northwestern pairs; and in 2004, there were an of Idaho that is south of Interstate 90
Montana lacks a large core refugium that estimated 324 wolves in 30 breeding and west of Interstate 15; and that
contains over-wintering wild ungulates. pairs (Service et al. 2003, 2004, 2005) portion of Montana south of Interstate
Therefore, wolf numbers are not ever (Figure 1). 90, west of Interstate 15 and south of
likely to be as high in northwestern Preliminary estimates suggest that Highway 12 west of Missoula (59 FR
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Montana as they are in central Idaho or wolf numbers in GYA are down in 2005 60266, November 22, 1994). This
the GYA. However, the population has (221 wolves in 13 breeding pairs) designation assisted us in initiating gray
persisted for nearly 20 years and is (Service September 9, 2005). The wolf reintroduction projects in central
robust today. State management, decline of wolves in YNP occurred Idaho and the GYA (59 FR 60252,
pursuant to the Montana State wolf because (1) highly suitable habitat is November 22, 1994). On January 6,
management plan, will ensure this saturated with wolf packs; (2) conflict 2005, we revised the regulations under

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6638 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

section 10(j) and liberalized throughout the 48 conterminous States, Distinct Vertebrate Population Segment
management options for problem we did not need to take action on these Policy Overview
wolves (70 FR 1285). We also petitions.
encouraged State and Tribal leadership Pursuant to the ESA, we consider for
On October 30, 2001, we received a listing any species, subspecies, or, for
in wolf management in the nonessential petition dated October 5, 2001, from the
experimental population areas (70 FR vertebrates, any DPS of these taxa if
Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk there is sufficient information to
1286, January 6, 2005) where States and
Herd, Inc. (Friends Petition) that sought indicate that such action may be
Tribes had Service-approved wolf
removal of the gray wolf from warranted. To interpret and implement
management plans.
On July 13, 2000, we proposed to endangered status under the ESA (Karl the DPS provision of the ESA and
reclassify and delist the gray wolf in Knuchel, P.C., A Professional Congressional guidance, the Service and
various parts of the contiguous United Corporation Attorneys at Law, in litt., the National Marine Fisheries Service
States (65 FR 43449). On April 1, 2003, 2001a). Additional correspondence in (NMFS) published, on December 21,
we published a final rule revising the late 2001 provided clarification that the 1994, a draft Policy Regarding the
listing status of the gray wolf across petition only applied to the Montana, Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate
most of the conterminous United States Wyoming, and Idaho population and Population Segments under the ESA
from endangered to threatened (68 FR that the petition requested full delisting and invited public comments on it (59
15804). In terms of the NRM population, of this population (Knuchel in litt. FR 65884). After review of comments
this rule (1) designated Washington, 2001b). Additionally, on July 19, 2005, and further consideration, the Service
Oregon, California, Nevada, Montana, we received a petition dated July 13, and NMFS adopted the interagency
Idaho, Wyoming and the northern 2005, from the Office of the Governor, policy as issued in draft form, and
portions of Utah and Colorado as the State of Wyoming and the Wyoming published it in the Federal Register on
Western gray wolf DPS (covering a Game and Fish Commission (Wyoming February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). This
larger area than proposed in 2000); (2) Petition) to revise the listing status for policy addresses the recognition of a
reclassified this DPS to threatened the gray wolf (Canis lupus) by DPS for potential listing,
status, except in the experimental establishing the northern Rocky reclassification, and delisting actions.
population areas; and (3) implemented Mountain DPS and to concurrently Under our DPS policy, three factors
a special regulation under section 4(d) remove the gray wolf in the NRM DPS are considered in a decision regarding
of the ESA to allow increased from the Federal list of threatened and the establishment and classification of a
management flexibility for problem endangered species (Dave Freudenthal, possible DPS. These are applied
wolves. On January 31, 2005, and Office of the Governor, State of similarly for additions to the list of
August 19, 2005, the U.S. District Courts Wyoming, in litt. 2005). On October 26, endangered and threatened species,
in Oregon and Vermont, respectively, 2005, we published a finding that—(1) reclassification of already listed species,
concluded that the 2003 final rule was the Friends Petition failed to present a and removals from the list. The first two
‘‘arbitrary and capricious’’ and violated case for delisting that would lead a factors—discreteness of the population
the ESA (Defenders of Wildlife v. reasonable person to believe that the segment in relation to the remainder of
Norton, 03–1348–JO, D. OR 2005; measure proposed in the petition may the taxon (i.e., Canis lupus); and the
National Wildlife Federation v. Norton, significance of the population segment
be warranted; and (2) the Wyoming
1:03–CV–340, D. VT. 2005). The courts’ to the taxon to which it belongs (i.e.,
petition presented substantial scientific
rulings invalidated the April 2003
and commercial information indicating Canis lupus)—bear on whether the
changes to the ESA listing for the gray
that the NRM gray wolf population may population segment is a valid DPS. If a
wolf. Therefore, the gray wolf in the
qualify as a DPS and that this potential population meets both tests, it is a DPS
Rocky Mountains, outside of areas
DPS may warrant delisting (70 FR and then the third factor is applied—the
designated as nonessential experimental
61770). We considered the collective population segment’s conservation
populations, reverted back to the
weight of evidence and initiated a 12- status in relation to the ESA’s standards
endangered status that existed prior to
month status review, which continues. for listing, delisting, or reclassification
the 2003 reclassification.
The Service has received a number of (i.e., is the population segment
In June of 2003, the Nevada
petitions relevant to the NRM wolf endangered or threatened).
Department of Wildlife (NDOW)
population. On July 16, 1990, the submitted a petition to delist wolves in Analysis for Discreteness
Service received a petition from the Nevada. The NDOW petition asserted
Farm Bureau Federations of Wyoming, that the 1978 listing of gray wolves as Under our Policy Regarding the
Montana, and Idaho to delist the gray endangered in Nevada and the 2003 Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate
wolf. On November 30, 1990, the reclassification of gray wolves as Population Segments, a population
Service published a finding that the threatened in Nevada were in error. On segment of a vertebrate taxon may be
petition did not present substantial considered discrete if it satisfies either
December 9, 2005, we published a
information to indicate that the one of the following conditions—(1) is
finding that the NDOW petition did not
petitioned action may be warranted (55 markedly separated from other
provide substantial information that the
FR 49656). populations of the same taxon (i.e.,
petitioned action may be warranted (70
Subsequent to our July 13, 2000, Canis lupus) as a consequence of
FR 73190).
reclassification proposal (65 FR 43449), physical, physiological, ecological, or
but after the close of the comment For additional information on behavioral factors (quantitative
period, we received petitions from previous Federal actions for gray wolves measures of genetic or morphological
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Defenders of Wildlife to list, as beyond the NRM, see the April 1, 2003, discontinuity may provide evidence of
endangered, gray wolf DPSs in the—(1) ‘‘Final rule to reclassify and remove the this separation); or (2) is delimited by
southern Rocky Mountains, (2) northern gray wolf from the list of endangered international governmental boundaries
California-southern Oregon, and (3) and threatened wildlife in portions of within which differences in control of
western Washington. Because wolves the conterminous United States’’ (68 FR exploitation, management of habitat,
were already protected as endangered 15804). conservation status, or regulatory

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mechanisms exist that are significant in unsuitable habitat separating them. No Six of these seven U.S. long-distance
light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the ESA. wolves are known to occur west of the dispersers remained within the tentative
Markedly Separated From Other contemplated DPS. No wolves from DPS. None of those long-distance
Populations of the Taxon—The eastern other populations are known to have wolves found mates nor survived long
edge of the tentative NRM wolf DPS dispersed as far as the borders of the enough to breed in the United States
(See Figure 2) is about 400 mi (644 km) NRM wolf DPS. (Boyd in prep.). Of the three wolves that
from the western edge of the area Although dispersal distance data for dispersed into eastern Oregon, two died
currently occupied by the Great Lakes North America (Fritts 1983; Missouri and one was relocated by the Service
wolf population (eastern Minnesota) Department of Conservation 2001; Ream
back to central Idaho. Of the two wolves
and is separated from it by hundreds of et al. 1991; Boyd and Pletscher 1997;
that dispersed into eastern Washington,
miles of unsuitable habitat (See Boyd et al. in prep.) show that gray
discussion of suitable habitat in Factor wolves can disperse over 500 mi (805 one died and the other moved north into
A). The southern edge of the NRM wolf km) from existing wolf populations, the Canada. The wolf that dispersed to
DPS border is about 450 mi (724 km) average dispersal of NRM wolves is northern Utah was incidentally
from the nonessential experimental about 60 mi (97 km). Only 7 of nearly captured by a coyote trapper and
populations of wolves in the 200 known NRM wolf dispersal events relocated back to Wyoming by the
southwestern United States with vast from 1994 through 2004 have been over Service.
amounts of unoccupied marginal or 180 mi (290 km) (Boyd et al. in prep.). BILLING CODE 4310–55–P
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BILLING CODE 4310–55–C


No connectivity currently exists unlikely. Furthermore, the DPS Policy
The only wolf known to have between the three U.S. gray wolf does not require complete separation of
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dispersed (within the United States) populations, nor are there any resident one DPS from other populations, but
beyond the border of the tentative NRM wolf packs in intervening areas. While instead requires ‘‘marked separation.’’
wolf DPS was killed by a vehicle it is theoretically possible that a lone Management Differences Among the
collision along Interstate 70 in north- wolf might transverse over 400 mi from United States and Canadian Wolf
central Colorado. one population to the other, it has never Populations—The DPS Policy allows us
been documented and is extremely to use international borders to delineate
EP08FE06.002</GPH>

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the boundaries of a DPS even if the (Ursus americanus), grizzly bears (Ursus DPS is significant in achieving this
current distribution of the species arctos horribilis), cougars (Felis objective, as it is 1 of only 3 known
extends across that border. Therefore, concolor), lynx (Lynx canadensis), occupied areas in the lower 48 States
we will continue to use the United wolverine (Gulo gulo), coyotes, badgers and constitutes nearly 20 percent of the
States-Canada border to mark the (Taxidea taxus), bobcats (Felis rufus), remaining wolves in the conterminous
northern boundary of the DPS due to the fisher (Martes pennanti), and marten States.
difference in control of exploitation, (Martes americana). The unique and We believe, based on our analysis of
conservation status, and regulatory diverse assemblage of native prey the best available scientific information,
mechanisms between the two countries. include elk, mule deer, white-tailed that the NRM wolf DPS is significant to
About 52,000–60,000 wolves occur in deer, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain the taxon in that NRM wolves exist in
Canada where suitable habitat is goats, pronghorn antelope, bison, and a unique ecological setting and their
abundant (Boitani 2003). Because of this beaver. This complexity leads to unique loss would represent a significant gap in
abundance, protection and intensive ecological cascades in some areas, such the range of the taxon. Therefore, the
management are not necessary to as in YNP (Smith et al. 2003; Robbins NRM wolf DPS appears to meet the
conserve the wolf in Canada. This 2004; Bangs and Smith in press). For criterion of significance under our
contrasts with the situation in the example, wolves appear to be changing Policy Regarding the Recognition of
United States, where, to date, intensive elk behavior and elk relationships and Distinct Vertebrate Population
management has been necessary to competition with other ungulates and Segments.
recover the wolf. Wolves in Canada are other predators (e.g. cougars) that did Defining the Boundaries of the
not protected by Federal laws and are not occur when wolves were absent. Tentative NRM Wolf DPS
only minimally protected in most These complex interactions could be
Canadian provinces (Pletscher et al. increasing streamside willow Although our DPS policy does not
1991). If delisted, States in the NRM production and survival (Ripple and provide for State or other intra-national
would carefully monitor and manage to Beschta 2004), which in turn can affect governmental boundaries to be used in
retain populations at or above the beaver and nesting by riparian birds determining the discreteness of a
recovery goal (see Factor D below). (Nievelt 2001). This suspected pattern of potential DPS, an artificial or manmade
Significant differences exist in wolf-caused changes also may be boundary may be used as a boundary of
management between U.S.-Canadian occurring with scavengers, whereby convenience in order to clearly identify
wolf populations. wolf predation is providing a year- the geographic area included within a
round source of food for a diverse DPS designation. Easily identifiable
Analysis for Significance manmade features, such as roads and
variety of carrion feeders (Wilmers et al.
If we determine a population segment 2003). The wolf population in the NRM highways, also can serve as a boundary
is discrete, we next consider available has significantly extended the range of of convenience for delineating a DPS.
scientific evidence of its significance to the gray wolf in the continental United The boundaries of the tentative NRM
the taxon (i.e., Canis lupus) to which it States into a much more diverse, wolf DPS include all of Montana, Idaho,
belongs. Our DPS policy states that this ecologically complex, and unique and Wyoming, the eastern third of
consideration may include, but is not assemblage of species than is found Washington and Oregon, and a small
limited to, the following—(1) elsewhere within historical wolf habitat part of north central Utah (See Figure 2).
persistence of the discrete population in the northern hemisphere, including Specifically, the DPS includes that
segment in an ecological setting unusual Europe and Asia. portion of Washington east of Highway
or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence Significant Gap in the Range of the 97 and Highway 17 north of Mesa and
that loss of the discrete population Taxon—Loss of the NRM wolf that portion of Washington east of
segment would result in a significant population would represent a Highway 395 south of Mesa. It includes
gap in the range of the taxon; (3) significant gap in the holarctic range of that portion of Oregon east of Highway
evidence that the discrete population the taxon. As noted above, wolves once 395 and Highway 78 north of Burns
segment represents the only surviving lived throughout most of North Junction and that portion of Oregon east
natural occurrence of a taxon that may America. Wolves have been extirpated of Highway 95 south of Burns Junction.
be more abundant elsewhere as an from most of the southern portions of Finally, the DPS includes that portion of
introduced population outside its their North American range. The loss of Utah east of Highway 84 and north of
historic range; and/or (4) evidence that the NRM wolf population would Highway 80. The centerline of these
the discrete population segment differs represent a significant gap in the roads will be deemed the border of the
markedly from other populations of the species’ holarctic range in that this loss DPS.
species in its genetic characteristics. would create a 15 degree latitudinal or One factor considered in defining the
Below we address Factors 1 and 2. over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) gap across the boundaries of the NRM wolf DPS was
Factors 3 and 4 do not apply to the Rocky Mountains between the Mexican the documented current distribution of
tentative NRM wolf DPS and thus are wolf and wolves in Canada. If this all known wolf pack locations in 2004
not included in our analysis for potential gap were realized, substantial (Figure 2) (Service et al. 2005). We also
significance. cascading ecological impacts would viewed the annual distribution of wolf
Unusual or Unique Ecological occur in that area (Smith et al. 2003; packs back to 2002 (the first year the
Setting—Within the range of holarctic Robbins 2004; Bangs and Smith in population exceeded the recovery goal)
wolves, the NRM is the only area where press). (Service et al. 2002, 2003, 2004). Our
such a high diversity of large predators Given the wolf’s historic occupancy of estimate of the overall area occupied by
occupy the same areas as a large variety the conterminous States and the portion wolf packs in the NRM would not have
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of native ungulate prey species, of the historic range the conterminous substantially changed our conclusions
resulting in complex ecological States represent, recovery in the lower had we included other years of data, so
interaction between the ungulate prey, 48 States has long been viewed as we used the most current information
predator, and scavenger groups (Smith important to the taxon (C. lupus) (39 FR available. All known wolf packs in
et al. 2003). In the NRM wolf DPS, gray 1171, January 4, 1974; 43 FR 9607, recent history have only been located in
wolves share habitats with black bears March 9, 1978). The tentative NRM wolf Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Only

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6642 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

occasional lone dispersing wolves from populations (See Factor A). The models northwestern Wyoming than to any
the NRM population have been indicate there is a large block of suitable future wolf populations that might
documented beyond those three States, wolf habitat in central Idaho and the become established in other large blocks
in eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, GYA, and to a lesser extent of suitable habitat outside the NRM wolf
northern Utah, and central Colorado northwestern Montana. These findings DPS. As noted earlier, large swaths of
(Boyd et al. in prep.). support the recommendations of the unsuitable habitat would isolate these
Dispersal distances played a key role 1987 wolf recovery plan (Service 1987) populations from other suitable habitat
in determining how far to extend the that identified those three areas as the patches to the west or south.
DPS. We examined the known dispersal most likely locations to support a
distance of over 200 marked dispersing recovered wolf population. The models Although we have received reports of
wolves from the NRM, primarily using indicate there is little suitable habitat individual and wolf family units in the
radio-telemetry locations and recoveries within the portion of the NRM wolf DPS North Cascades of Washington (Almack
of the carcasses of marked wolves from in Washington, Oregon, or Utah. (See and Fitkin 1998), agency efforts to
the 1980s until the present time (Boyd Factor A). confirm them were unsuccessful and to
and Pletscher 1997; Boyd et al. in prep). Unsuitable habitat also is important in date no individual wolves or packs have
These data indicate the average determining the boundaries of our DPS. ever been documented there (Boyd and
dispersal distance of wolves from the Model predictions by Oakleaf et al. (in Pletscher 1997, Boyd et al. in prep.).
NRM for the last 10 years was about 60 press) and Carroll et al. (2003, 2006) and Intervening unsuitable habitat makes it
mi (97 km) (Boyd et al. in prep.). We our observations during the past 20 highly unlikely that wolves from the
determined that 180 mi (290 km), three years (Bangs 2004, Service et al. 2005) NRM population have dispersed to the
times the average dispersal distance, indicate that non-forested rangeland and North Cascades of Washington in recent
was a break-point for unusually long- croplands associated with intensive history. However, if the wolf were to be
distance dispersal out from existing agricultural use (prairie and high desert) delisted in the NRM wolf DPS, it would
wolf pack territories, in part, because would preclude wolf pack remain protected by the ESA as
only 7 wolves (none of which establishment and persistence. This is endangered outside the DPS. We will
subsequently bred) have dispersed due to chronic conflict with livestock continue to provide recommendations
farther into the United States. Only and pets, local cultural intolerance of for appropriate protections on a site-
dispersal within the United States was large predators, and wolf behavioral specific basis should wolves ultimately
considered in these calculations because characteristics that make them disperse into and form packs in areas
we were trying to determine the extremely vulnerable to human-caused
outside of the NRM wolf DPS.
appropriate DPS boundaries within the mortality in open landscapes (See
United States. Dispersers to Canada Factor A). We looked at the distribution We would include all of Wyoming,
were irrelevant because the Canadian of large expanses of unsuitable habitat Montana, and Idaho in the NRM wolf
border formed the northern edge of the that would form a ‘‘barrier’’ or natural DPS because their State regulatory
DPS. Thus, we plotted the average boundary separating the current frameworks apply State-wide. We
dispersal distance and three times the population from both the southwestern recognize that this includes large swaths
average dispersal distance out from and midwestern wolf populations and of unsuitable habitat in eastern
existing wolf pack territories. The from the core of any other possible wolf Wyoming and Montana. We chose not to
resulting map indicated a wide-band of population that might develop in the extend the NRM wolf DPS border
likely wolf dispersal that might be foreseeable future in the northwestern beyond eastern Montana and Wyoming
frequent enough to result in additional United States. It is important to note to provide clearly delineated, easily
pack establishment from the core wolf that the DPS Policy does not require understood boundaries for law
population given the availability of complete separation of one DPS from enforcement purposes, consistency with
nearby suitable habitat. Our specific other populations, but instead requires State wolf regulations and planning
data on wolf dispersal in the NRM may ‘‘marked separation.’’ Thus, if efforts, and for administrative
not be applicable to other areas of North occasional individual wolves or packs convenience. Including all of Wyoming
America (Mech and Boitani 2003). disperse among populations, the NRM in the NRM wolf DPS would also result
We also examined suitable wolf wolf DPS could still display the in including portions of the Sierra
habitat in Montana, Idaho, and required discreteness. Madre, the Snowy, and the Laramie
Wyoming (Oakleaf et al. in press) and Within the NRM wolf DPS, we
Ranges. Oakleaf et al. (2006, pers.
throughout the western United States included the eastern parts of
comm.) chose not to analyze these areas
(Carroll et al. 2003, 2006) by comparing Washington and Oregon and a small
of SE Wyoming because they are fairly
the biological and physical portion of north central Utah, because—
characteristics of areas currently (1) these areas are within a 60 to 180 intensively used by livestock and are
occupied by wolf packs with the mile (97 to 290 km) band from the core surrounded with, and interspersed by,
characteristics of adjacent areas that wolf population where dispersal is private land, making pack establishment
remain unoccupied by wolf packs. The likely; (2) lone dispersing wolves have unlikely. While Carroll et al. (2003,
basic findings and predictions of those been found in these areas in recent 2006) indicated it was suitable habitat,
models (Oakleaf et al. in press; Carroll times (Boyd et al. in prep.); (3) these the model optimistically predicted that
et al. 2003, 2006) were similar in many areas contain some suitable habitat (see under current conditions these areas
respects. Suitable wolf habitat in the Factor A for a more in-depth discussion were largely sink habitat and that by
NRM wolf DPS is typically of suitable habitat); and (4) the potential 2025 (within the foreseeable future) they
characterized by public land, for connectivity exists between these were likely to be ranked as low
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mountainous forested habitat, abundant relatively small and fragmented habitat occupancy because of increased human
year-round wild ungulate populations, patches and the large blocks of suitable population growth and road
lower road density, lower numbers of habitat in the NRM wolf DPS. If wolf development. Therefore, we do not
domestic livestock that were only packs do establish in these areas, they consider these areas to be suitable wolf
present seasonally, few domestic sheep, would be more connected to the core habitat and they were not significant
low agricultural use, and low human populations in central Idaho and factors in determining the DPS border.

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Summary of Factors Affecting the For the purposes of this notice, the excessive unregulated human-caused
Species ‘‘range’’ of this NRM wolf DPS is the mortality. The core recovery areas are
area within the DPS boundaries where also within proximity to one another
Section 4 of the ESA and regulations viable populations of the species now and have enough public land between
(50 CFR part 424) promulgated to exist. However, a species’ historic range them to ensure sufficient connectivity to
implement the listing provisions of the is also considered because it helps maintain the wolf population above
ESA set forth the procedures for listing, inform decisions on the species status in recovery levels.
reclassifying, and delisting species. its current range. While wolves The NRM wolf DPS is 378,690 mi
Species may be listed as threatened or historically occurred over most of the (980,803 km2) and includes 158,807 mi2
endangered if one or more of the five DPS, large portions of it are no longer (411,308 km2) of Federal land (42
factors described in section 4(a)(1) of the able to support viable wolf populations. percent); 20,734 mi2 (53,701 km2) of
ESA threaten the continued existence of Significance of a portion of the range State land (5 percent); 15,068 mi2
the species. A species may be delisted, is viewed in terms of biological (39,026 km2) of Tribal land (4 percent);
according to 50 CFR 424.11(d), if the significance. A portion of a species’ and 180,543 mi2 (467,604 km2) of
best scientific and commercial data range that is so important to the private land (48 percent). The DPS
available substantiate that the species is continued existence of the species that contains large amounts of 3 Ecoregion
neither endangered nor threatened threats to the species in that area can Divisions—Temperate Steppe (prairie)
because of (1) extinction, (2) recovery, threaten the viability of the species, (120,521 mi2 [312,148 km2]); Temperate
or (3) error in the original data used for subspecies, or DPS as a whole is Steppe Mountain (forest) (156,341 mi2
classification of the species. considered to be a significant portion of [404,921 km2]); and Temperate Desert
A recovered population is one that no the range. In regard to the NRM wolf (high desert) (101,755 mi2 [263,544
longer meets the ESA’s definition of DPS, the significant portions of the gray km2]) (Bailey 1995). The following
threatened or endangered. The ESA wolf’s range are those areas that are analysis focuses on suitable habitat
defines an endangered species as one important or necessary for maintaining within the DPS and currently occupied
that is in danger of extinction a viable, self-sustaining, and evolving areas (which may include intermittent
throughout all or a significant portion of representative meta-population in order unsuitable habitat).
its range. A threatened species is one for the NRM wolf DPS to persist into the Suitable Habitat within the DPS—
that is likely to become an endangered foreseeable future. Wolves once occupied or transited most,
species in the foreseeable future The following analysis examines all if not all, of the NRM wolf DPS.
throughout all or a significant portion of significant factors currently affecting However, much of the wolf s historic
its range. Determining whether a species wolf populations or likely to affect wolf range within the DPS has been modified
is recovered requires consolidation of populations within the foreseeable for human use and is no longer suitable
the same five categories of threats future. Factor A considers all factors habitat. We used two relatively new
specified in section 4(a)(1). For species affecting both currently occupied models, Oakleaf et al. (in press) and
that are already listed as threatened or (defined below in Factor A) and Carroll et al. (2006), to help us
endangered, this analysis of threats is an potentially suitable habitat (defined determine and estimate the current
evaluation of both the threats currently below in Factor A). The issues amount of suitable wolf habitat in the
discussed under Factors B, C, and E are NRM wolf DPS. As expected, the
facing the species and the threats that
analyzed throughout the entire DPS. Oakleaf et al. (in press) and Carroll et al.
could potentially affect the species in
Adequate regulatory mechanisms (2006) models predicted different
the foreseeable future following the
(Factor D) are discussed for each of the amounts of theoretically suitable wolf
delisting or downlisting and the
6 States within the DPS and relevant habitat where their analysis overlapped
removal or reduction of the ESA’s
tribes, with an emphasis on the three because they used different models with
protections.
States with enough suitable habitat to different variables over different areas.
For the purposes of this notice, we sustain a viable wolf population Oakleaf’s basic model was a more
consider ‘‘foreseeable future’’ as 30 (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho). intensive effort that only looked at
years. We use 30 years to represent both potential wolf habitat in the NRM. It
a reasonable timeframe for analysis of A. The Present or Threatened used roads accessible to two-wheel and
future potential threats and relate this Destruction, Modification, or four-wheel vehicles, topography (slope
timeframe back to wolf biology. Wolves Curtailment of Its Habitat or Range and elevation), land ownership, relative
were listed in 1973 and reached As discussed in detail below, we ungulate density (based on state harvest
recovery levels by 2002 in both the believe that impacts to suitable and statistics), cattle and sheep density,
midwestern United States and the NRM potentially suitable habitat will occur at vegetation characteristics (Ecoregions
wolf DPS. It has taken about 30 years for levels that will not significantly affect and land cover), and human density to
the causes of wolf endangerment to be wolf numbers or distribution in the comprise its geographic information
alleviated and for those wolf NRM wolf DPS. Occupied suitable system (GIS) layers. Oakleaf analyzed
populations to recover. The average habitat in key areas of Montana, Idaho, the characteristics of areas occupied and
lifespan of a wolf in YNP is 4 years and and Wyoming is secure. These areas not occupied by NRM wolf packs
slightly less outside the Park (Smith, include Glacier, Teton, and Yellowstone through 2000 to predict what other areas
pers. comm., 2005). The average gray National Parks and numerous USDA in the NRM might be suitable or
wolf breeds at 30 months of age and Forest Service Wilderness areas. Nearly unsuitable for future wolf pack
replaces itself in 3 years (Fuller et al. two-thirds of the overall area is Federal formation.
2003). We used 10 wolf generations (30 and State public land. These areas will Our experience in wolf management
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years) to represent a reasonable continue to be managed for high for the past 20 years, and the persistence
biological timeframe to determine if ungulate densities, moderate rates of of wolf packs since recovery has been
impacts could be significant. Any seasonal livestock grazing, moderate-to- achieved, leads us to concur with the
serious threats to wolf population low road densities that will provide Oakleaf et al. (in press) model’s
viability are likely to become evident abundant native prey, low potential for predictions that the most important
well before a 30-year time horizon. livestock conflicts, and security from habitat attributes for wolf pack

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persistence are forest cover, public land, central Idaho, and the GYA and in the Oregon; 1,655 mi2 (4,286 km2) in Utah;
high elk density, and low livestock area currently occupied by the NRM and 297 mi2 (769 km2) in Washington.
density. Therefore, we believe that wolf population. They also indicated For perspective, a single wolf pack
Oakleaf’s calculations of the amount that these three areas were connected. territory normally averages 200–500 mi2
and distribution of suitable wolf habitat, However, northwest Montana and Idaho (518–1,295 km2). Thus, approximately
in the parts of Montana, Idaho and were more connected to each other than 28 percent of the NRM wolf DPS would
Wyoming analyzed, represents the most the GYA, and collectively the three be ranked as suitable habitat in
reasonably realistic prediction of cores areas were surrounded by large accordance with the most liberal model
suitable wolf habitat in Montana, Idaho, areas of unsuitable habitat. available (Carroll et al. 2006). We used
and Wyoming. Both models ranked areas as suitable the Carroll model to assess relative
In contrast, Carroll’s model analyzed habitat if they had characteristics that habitat suitability in the entire NRM
a much larger area (all 12 western States suggested they might have a 50 percent wolf DPS because the Oakleaf model
and northern Mexico) in a less specific or greater chance of supporting wolf only analyzed areas in Montana, Idaho,
way. Carroll’s model used density and packs. Suitable wolf habitat in the NRM and Wyoming. Because theoretical
type of roads, human population wolf DPS was typically characterized by models only define suitable habitat as
density and distribution, slope, and both models as public land with those areas that have characteristics
vegetative greenness as ‘‘pseudo- mountainous forested habitat and with a 50 percent or more chance of
habitat’’ to estimate relative ungulate having abundant year-round wild supporting wolf packs, it is impossible
density to predict associated wolf ungulate populations, low road density, to give an exact acreage of suitable
survival and fecundity rates. The low numbers of domestic livestock that habitat that can actually be successfully
combination of the GIS model and wolf are only present seasonally, few occupied by wolf packs. It is important
population parameters were then used domestic sheep, low agricultural use, to note that these areas also have up to
to develop estimates of habitat and few people. Unsuitable wolf habitat a 50 percent chance of not supporting
theoretically suitable for wolf pack was typically just the opposite (i.e., wolf packs.
persistence. In addition, Carroll private land, flat open prairie or desert, We considered data on the location of
predicted the potential effect of different low or seasonal wild ungulate suitable wolf habitat from a number of
levels of road and human density in populations, high road density, high sources in developing our estimate of
2025 to suitable wolf habitat in the numbers of year-round domestic suitable wolf habitat in the NRM wolf
western United States. We believe that livestock including many domestic DPS. This included the locations
the Carroll et al. (2006) model tended to sheep, high levels of agricultural use, estimated in the 1987 wolf recovery
be more liberal in identifying suitable and many people). We generally agree plan (Service 1987), the primary
wolf habitat under current conditions with these criteria. A mix of these analysis areas analyzed in the 1994 EIS
compared to Oakleaf model or our field characteristics produced varying for the GYA (24,600 mi2 [63,700 km2])
observations indicated but it provided a degrees of suitability. The full spectrum and central Idaho (20,700 mi2 [53,600
valuable relative measure across the runs from highly suitable (i.e., the km2]) (Service 1994), information
western United States upon which northern range of YNP) to highly derived from theoretical models by
comparisons could be made. The Carroll unsuitable (i.e., a city or a sheep ranch Carroll et al. (2006) and Oakleaf et al.
model did not incorporate livestock in eastern Montana) and every (in press), and our nearly 20 years of
density into its calculations as the imaginable combination between the field experience managing wolves in the
Oakleaf model did. We believe that may two extremes. NRM. Oakleaf predicted that there was
in part explain why Carroll ranked more These models are useful in 65,725 mi2 (170,227 km2) of suitable
habitat as potentially suitable than understanding the relative proportions habitat in Montana, Idaho, and
appeared to be realistic based upon our and distributions of various habitat Wyoming. Carroll predicted that there
observations of wolf pack persistence to characteristics and their relationships to was 107,096 mi2 (277,377 km2) of
date. Many of the more isolated primary wolf pack persistence rather than as suitable habitat within the NRM wolf
habitat patches that the Carroll model predictors of absolute acreages or areas DPS, and 102,588 mi2 (265,702 km2) (96
predicted as currently suitable, were that can actually be occupied by wolf percent) of that was in Montana, Idaho,
predicted as unsuitable by the year packs. Carroll et al. (2006) and Wyoming. We agree with Oakleaf et
2025, indicating they were likely on the optimistically ranked 102,588 mi2 al. (in press) on the area they concluded
lower end of what ranked as suitable (265,703 km2) and Oakleaf et al. (in is suitable wolf habitat and that there is
habitat in that model. Because these press) ranked 65,725 mi2 (170,228 km2) roughly 65,000 mi2 (168,000 km2) of
types of areas were typically small and of suitable habitat in Montana, Idaho suitable wolf habitat that is realistically
isolated from the core population and Wyoming. We believe that these available for persistent wolf pack
segments, we do not believe they are models’ assessments are reasonable and formation in the NRM wolf DPS in
currently suitable habitat based upon on they generally support earlier Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming under
our data on wolf pack persistence for predictions about wolf habitat current conditions. Although Carroll
the past 10 years (Carroll et al. 2003). suitability in the NRM (Service 1980, determined there maybe some
Despite the huge differences in each 1987, 1994). We used their findings to potentially suitable wolf habitat (<5,000
model’s analysis area, layers, inputs, make interpretations and predictions mi2 [13,000 km2]) in the NRM wolf DPS
and assumptions, they had similar about wolf pack distribution in relation outside of Montana, Idaho and
results and assumptions that are directly to potentially suitable habitat in the Wyoming, we believe it is marginally
related to the NRM wolf DPS. These NRM wolf DPS. suitable at best and is insignificant to
models were extremely valuable to us as In the NRM wolf DPS, the estimated wolf population recovery because it
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we developed the DPS border and amounts of potentially suitable wolf occurs in small isolated fragmented
analyzed potentially suitable and habitat predicted by Carroll et al. (2006) areas.
unsuitable wolf habitat within the NRM in each State are—40,924 mi2 (105,993 Currently Occupied Habitat—The
wolf DPS. Both models predicted that km2) in Montana; 31,856 mi2 (82,507 area ‘‘currently occupied’’ by the NRM
most suitable wolf habitat in the NRM km2) in Idaho; 29,808 mi2 (77,202 km2) wolf population was calculated by
wolf DPS was in northwestern Montana, in Wyoming; 2,556 mi2 (6,620 km2) in drawing a line around the outer points

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of radio-telemetry locations of all This indicates there is probably limited live) analyzed for wolf reintroduction in
known wolf pack (n = 110) territories in suitable habitat for the population to central Idaho and the GYA (Service
2004 (See Figure 2) (Service et al. 2005). expand significantly beyond its current 1994).
We defined occupied wolf habitat as borders. Carroll’s model predicted that Potential Threats Affecting Suitable
that area confirmed as being used by 63,901 mi2 (165,503 km2) of suitable and Currently Occupied Habitat—
resident wolves to raise pups or that is habitat (62 percent) was within the Establishing a recovered wolf
consistently used by two or more occupied area, however, the model’s population in the NRM wolf DPS did
wolves for longer than one month remaining potentially (38 percent) not require land-use restrictions or
(Service 1994). Although we relied upon suitable habitat in Montana, Idaho, and curtailment of traditional land-uses in
2004 wolf monitoring data (Service et al. Wyoming was often fragmented and in the northwestern United States because
2005), the overall distribution of wolf smaller, more isolated patches. Suitable there were enough suitable habitat,
packs has been similar since 2000 when habitat within the occupied area, enough wild ungulates, and sufficiently
the numerical and distributional particularly between the population few livestock conflicts to recover wolves
recovery goal was first reached (Service segments is important to maintain the under existing conditions (Bangs et al.
et al. 2001–2005). This general overall population. Habitat on the outer 2004). We do not believe that any
distribution of wolf packs would be edge of the meta-population is traditional land-use practices in the
maintained after delisting because insignificant to maintaining the NRM NRM wolf DPS need be modified to
delisting would occur only if Montana, wolf population’s viability or maintain a recovered NRM wolf
Idaho, and Wyoming committed to maintaining the population throughout population into the foreseeable future.
manage wolves in their State above the a significant portion of its range in the We do not anticipate overall habitat
minimum 10 breeding pair and 100 NRM wolf DPS. Oakleaf predicted that changes in the NRM wolf DPS occurring
individual wolves recovery level per there was 65,725 mi2 (170,227 km2) of at a magnitude that will threaten wolf
State. We included areas between the suitable habitat in Montana, Idaho, and recovery in the foreseeable future
core recovery segments as occupied Wyoming. Roughly 57,374 mi2 (148,599 because 70 percent of the suitable
wolf habitat even though wolf packs did km2) or 87 percent of that is within the habitat is in public ownership that is
not use certain portions of it. While area we describe as the area currently managed for multiple uses including
models ranked some of it as unsuitable occupied by the NRM wolf population. maintenance of viable wildlife
habitat, those intervening areas are We consider this 57,374 mi2 (148,599 populations (Carroll et al. 2002; Oakleaf
important to maintaining the meta- km2) of occupied suitable habitat as the in press).
population structure since dispersing significant portion of the recovered wolf The GYA and central Idaho recovery
wolves routinely travel through those population’s range because it is the only areas, 24,600 mi2 (63,714 km2) and
areas (Service 1994; Bangs 2002). This area required to maintain the wolf 20,700 mi2 (53,613 km2), respectively,
would include areas such as the are primarily composed of public lands
population above recovery levels for the
Flathead Valley and other smaller (Service 1994) and are the largest
foreseeable future and it is important to
valleys intensively used for agriculture, contiguous blocks of suitable habitat
the continued existence of wolves in the
and a few of the smaller isolated within the NRM wolf DPS. Central
NRM wolf DPS. Threats to this area
mountain ranges surrounded by Idaho (with 9,375 mi2 [24,281 km2] of
would have the effect of threatening the
agricultural lands in west-central designated wilderness at its core) and
viability of the NRM wolf DPS. These
Montana. the GYA (with YNP over 3,125 mi2
57,374 mi2 (148,599 km2) are also
We estimate approximately 106,384 [8,094 km2] and about 6,250 mi2 [16,187
necessary for maintaining a viable, self-
mi2 (275,533 km2) of occupied habitat in km2] of designated wilderness at its
sustaining, and evolving representative
parts of Montana (48,343 mi2 [125,208 core) provide secure habitat and
meta-population in order for the NRM abundant ungulate populations
km2]); Idaho (44,907 mi2 [116,309 km2]);
wolf DPS to persist into the foreseeable neighboring in the range of over 99,300
and Wyoming (13,134 mi2 [34,017
future. ungulates in the GYA and 241,400 in
km2]). As noted above, occupancy is
limited to these three States and We believe the remaining roughly 13 central Idaho (Service 1994), and
includes both suitable and unsuitable percent of theoretical suitable wolf provide optimal suitable habitat to help
areas (especially in the areas between habitat that is unoccupied is primarily maintain a viable wolf population
wolf pack territories). Although outside the NRM wolf population area, (Service 1994). These areas are in public
currently occupied habitat includes is unimportant to maintaining the ownership, and no foreseeable habitat-
some prairie (1,733 mi2 [4,488 km2]) and recovered wolf population, and thus is related threats would prevent them from
some high desert (9,451 mi2 [24,478 not a significant portion of the range of supporting a wolf population that
km2]), wolf packs did not use these the NRM wolf DPS. The requirement exceeds recovery levels.
habitat types successfully. Since 1986, that Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming each While the northwestern Montana
no persistent wolf pack has had a maintain at least 10 breeding pairs and recovery area (>19,200 mi2 [>49,728
majority of its home range in high desert 100 wolves in mid-winter insures that km2]) also has a core of suitable habitat
or prairie habitat. Landownership in the the recovered wolf population will be (Glacier National Park and the Bob
occupied habitat area is 70,844 mi2 maintained throughout a significant Marshal Wilderness Complex), it is not
(183,485 km2) Federal (67 percent); portion of its range in the NRM wolf as high quality, as large, or as
4,717 mi2 (12,217 km2) State (4.4 DPS into the foreseeable future. The contiguous as that in either central
percent); 1,183 mi2 (3,064 km2) Tribal NRM wolf population occupies nearly Idaho or GYA. The primary reason for
(1.7 percent); and 27,675 mi2 (71,678 100 percent of the recovery areas this is that ungulates do not winter
km2) private (26 percent). recommended in the 1987 recovery plan throughout the area because it is higher
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We determined that the current wolf (i.e., the central Idaho, the GYA, and the in elevation. Most wolf packs in
population is a three segment meta- northwestern Montana recovery areas) northwestern Montana live west of the
population and that the overall area (Service 1987) and nearly 100 percent of continental divide where forest habitats
used by the NRM wolf population has the primary analysis areas (the areas are a fractured mix of private and public
not significantly expanded since the where suitable habitat was believed to lands (Service et al. 2005). This exposes
population achieved recovery in 2002. exist and the wolf population would wolves to higher levels of human-

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caused mortality and thus supports wolf packs, they are an insignificant ungulate populations significant enough
smaller and fewer wolf packs. Wolf amount of habitat and are not needed to to affect a recovered wolf population.
dispersal into northwestern Montana maintain the recovered wolf population Cattle and sheep are at least twice as
from the more stable resident packs in in the NRM wolf DPS. Therefore, these numerous as wild ungulates even on
the core protected area (largely the areas do not appear to constitute a public lands (Service 1994a). The only
North Fork of the Flathead River along significant portion of the range of the areas large enough to support wolf
the eastern edge of Glacier National Park NRM wolf DPS. packs, but lacking livestock grazing, are
and the few large river drainages in the The recovery plan (Service 1987), the Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex) meta-population structure and some adjacent USDA Forest Service
helps to maintain that segment of the recommended by Fritts (Service 1994), Wilderness and parts of wilderness
NRM wolf population. Wolves also and subsequent investigations (Bangs areas in central Idaho and northwestern
disperse into northwestern Montana 2002), recognize the importance of some Montana. Consequently, many wolf
from Canada and some packs have habitat connectivity between pack territories have included areas
trans-boundary territories, helping to northwestern Montana, central Idaho, used by livestock, primarily cattle.
maintain the NRM population (Boyd et and the GYA. There appears to be Every wolf pack outside these areas has
al. 1995). Conversely, wolf dispersal enough habitat connectivity between interacted with some livestock,
from northwestern Montana into occupied wolf habitat in Canada, primarily cattle. Livestock and livestock
Canada, where wolves are much less northwestern Montana, Idaho, and, to a carrion are routinely used by wolves,
protected, continues to draw some lesser extent, the GYA to ensure but management discourages chronic
wolves into vacant or low density exchange of sufficient numbers of use of livestock as prey. Conflict
habitats in Canada where they are dispersing wolves to maintain between wolves and livestock has
subject to legal hunting (Bangs et al. demographic and genetic diversity in resulted in the annual removal of some
1998). The trans-boundary movements the NRM wolf meta-population (Oakleaf wolves (Bangs et al. 1995, Bangs et al.
of wolves and wolf packs led to the et al. 2006; Carroll et al. 2006; vonHoldt 2004, 2005, Service et al. 2002). This is
establishment of wolves in Montana, et al., in litt., 2005; Boyd et al. in prep.). discussed further under Factor D and E.
and will continue to have an overall To date, from radio-telemetry Unoccupied Suitable Habitat—
positive effect on wolf genetic diversity monitoring we have documented Habitat suitability modeling indicates
and demography in the northwest routine wolf movement between wolves the NRM core recovery areas are
Montana segment of the NRM wolf in Canada and northwestern Montana atypical of other habitats in the western
population. (Pletscher et al. 1991; Boyd and United States because suitable habitat in
Pletscher 1997), occasional wolf those areas occurs in such large
Within occupied suitable habitat, movement between wolves in Idaho and contiguous blocks (Service 1987; Carroll
enough public land exists so that a Montana, and at least eleven wolves et al. 2006; Oakleaf et al. in press). It is
delisted wolf population can be safely have traveled into the GYA (vonHoldt et likely that without core refugia areas,
maintained above recovery levels. al., in litt., 2005; Boyd et al. 1995; Boyd like YNP and the central Idaho
Important suitable wolf habitat is in et al. in prep.). Because we know only wilderness, that provide a steady influx
public ownership and the States and about the 30 percent of the wolf of dispersing wolves, other potentially
Federal land-management agencies will population that has been radio-collared, suitable wolf habitat in the NRM wolf
continue to manage habitat that will additional dispersal has undoubtedly DPS (such as east-central Oregon and
provide forage and security for high occurred. This demonstrates current the smaller isolated fragments of
ungulate populations, sufficient cover habitat conditions allow dispersing suitable habitat just outside of the area
for wolf security, and low road density. wolves to occasionally travel from one currently occupied by wolf packs)
Carroll et al. (2003, 2006) predicted recovery area to another. Finally, the would not be capable of sustaining wolf
future wolf habitat suitability under Montana State plan (the key State packs. Some habitat that is ranked by
several scenarios through 2025, regarding connectivity) committed to models as suitable that is adjacent to
including increased human population maintain natural connectivity to ensure core refugia, like central Idaho, may be
growth and road development. Those the maintenance of genetic integrity by able to support wolf packs, while some
threats were not predicted to alter wolf promoting land-uses, such as traditional theoretically suitable habitat that is
habitat suitability in Montana, Idaho, ranching, that enhance wildlife habitat farther away from a strong source of
and Wyoming enough to cause the wolf and conservation. dispersing wolves, may not be able to
population to fall below recovery levels. Another important factor in support persistent packs. This fact is
Ninety-six percent of suitable habitat in maintaining wolf populations is the important to consider as suitable habitat
the NRM wolf DPS occurs in these three native ungulate population. Wild as identified by models still only has a
states (Carroll et al. in press). Oakleaf et ungulate prey in these three areas are 50 percent or greater chance of being
al. (in press) only analyzed habitat in composed mainly of elk, white-tailed successfully occupied by wolf packs
those three states because they believed deer, mule deer, moose, and (only in the and significantly contributing to overall
there was limited wolf habitat adjacent GYA) bison. Bighorn sheep, mountain population recovery. Therefore, not all
to the areas previously identified during goats, and pronghorn antelope are also habitat predicted by models thought to
recovery planning (Service 1987, 1994). common but not important, at least at be suitable can be successfully occupied
The areas Carroll et al. (2006) predicted this time, as wolf prey. In total, 100,000 by wolf packs.
as theoretically suitable wolf habitat in to 250,000 wild ungulates are estimated Strips and smaller (less than 1,000
the NRM wolf DPS within Washington, in each State where wolf packs mi2 [2,600 km2]) patches of theoretically
Oregon, and Utah were small and often currently exist. All the States in the suitable habitat land (typically isolated
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fragmented but primarily were in public NRM wolf DPS have managed resident mountain ranges) often possess higher
land ownership. They were not subject ungulate populations for decades and mortality risk for wolves because of
to any threats that could affect wolf maintain them at densities that would their enclosure by, and proximity to,
recovery in the NRM wolf DPS. While easily support a recovered wolf areas of high mortality risk. This
they will be visited by dispersing population. There is no foreseeable phenomenon, in which the quality and
wolves and may support occasional condition that would cause a decline in quantity of suitable habitat is

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diminished because of interactions with National Parks and numerous USDA percent of the wolves captured for
surrounding less suitable habitat, is Forest Service Wilderness areas. Over scientific research, nonlethal control,
known as an edge effect (Mills 1995). two thirds of the overall area is Federal and monitoring have been accidentally
Edge effects are exacerbated in small and State public land. These areas will killed. Some wolves may have been
habitat patches with high perimeter to continue to be managed for high illegally killed for commercial use of the
area ratios (i.e., those that are long and ungulate densities, moderate rates of pelts and other parts, but illegal
narrow like isolated mountain ranges) seasonal livestock grazing, moderate-to- commercial trafficking in wolf pelts or
and in wide-ranging species, like low road densities that will provide wolf parts is believed to be rare. Illegal
wolves, because they are more likely to abundant native prey, low potential for capture of wolves for commercial
encounter surrounding unsuitable livestock conflicts, and security from breeding purposes also is possible, but
habitat (Woodroffe and Ginsberg 1998). excessive unregulated human-caused is believed to be extremely rare. The
This suggests that even though some mortality. The core recovery areas are potential for ‘‘take’’ prosecution
habitat outside the core areas may rank also within proximity to one another provided for by the ESA is believed to
as suitable in models, it is unlikely to and have enough public land between have discouraged and minimized the
actually be successfully occupied by them to ensure sufficient connectivity to illegal killing of wolves for commercial
wolf packs because this type of edge maintain the wolf population above or recreational purposes. Although
effect was not of overriding importance recovery levels. Federal penalties under the ESA will
in either the Oakleaf or Carroll models. No significant threats to the suitable not apply if delisting were to be
For these reasons, we believe that the habitat in these areas are known to exist. finalized, other Federal laws will still
wolf population in the NRM wolf DPS These areas have long been recognized protect wildlife in National Parks and
will remain centered in northwestern as the most likely areas to successfully on other Federal lands (Service 1994). In
Montana, central Idaho, and the GYA. support 30 or more breeding pairs of addition, the States and Tribes have
This is the significant portion of the wolves, comprising 300 or more similar laws and regulations that protect
wolf’s range in the NRM that is individuals in a metapopulation with game or trophy animals from
important or necessary for maintaining some genetic exchange between overutilization for commercial,
a viable, self-sustaining, and evolving subpopulations (Service 1980, 1987, recreational, scientific, and educational
representative population or 1994). These areas contain purposes (See Factor D for a more
populations in order for the NRM wolf approximately 87 percent of the suitable detailed discussion of this issue and
DPS to persist into the foreseeable habitat in the NRM wolf DPS. weblinks to applicable State laws and
future. Therefore, we believe that the Unsuitable habitat, and small, regulations). We believe these laws will
suitable habitat we predicted within, fragmented areas of suitable habitat continue to provide a strong deterrent to
and adjacent to these areas, are the only away from these core areas, largely illegal killing by the public and have
areas that are biologically significant to represent geographic locations where been effective in State-led conservation
maintaining a viable, self-sustaining, wolf packs cannot persist. Although programs for other resident wildlife. In
and evolving representative meta- they may have been historic habitat, addition, the State fish and game
population in the NRM wolf DPS that many of these areas are no longer agencies, National Parks and other
will persist into the foreseeable future. suitable and are not important or Federal agencies, and most Tribes have
These areas comprise the only necessary for maintaining a viable, self- well-distributed experienced cadres of
significant portion of the gray wolf’s sustaining, and evolving representative professional law enforcement officers to
range in the NRM wolf DPS. wolf population in the NRM wolf DPS help enforce State, Federal, and Tribal
These core population segments will into the foreseeable future, and are not wildlife regulations (See Factor D).
continue to provide a constant source of a significant portion of the range of the Scientific Research and Monitoring—
dispersing wolves into surrounding NRM wolf DPS. From 1984 to 2004, the Service and our
areas, supplementing wolf packs in cooperating partners have captured over
adjacent but less secure suitable habitat. B. Overutilization for Commercial,
716 NRM wolves for monitoring,
However, occupancy of such Recreational, Scientific, or Educational
nonlethal control, and research
theoretically suitable habitats outside of Purposes
purposes with 23 accidental deaths. If
the core recovery areas will not play a As detailed below, overutilization for the NRM DPS were to be delisted, the
significant role in maintaining a long- commercial, recreational, scientific, or States, National Parks, and Tribes would
term viable wolf population. Therefore, educational purposes has not been a continue to capture and radio-collar
it appears that within the NRM wolf significant threat to the NRM wolf wolves in the NRM area for monitoring
DPS, there are no significant portions of population, particularly in the core and research purposes in accordance
the wolf’s range that are currently areas of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. with their State wolf management plans
unoccupied. Most (roughly 87 percent) Delisting the NRM wolf DPS would not (See Factor D and Post-Delisting
suitable wolf habitat in the NRM wolf threaten recovery by excessive changes Monitoring). We expect that capture-
DPS and all suitable habitat significant in mortality rates caused by commercial, caused mortality by Federal agencies,
to maintain a recovered wolf population recreational, scientific, or education universities, States, and Tribes
is, and will remain, occupied by wolves. purposes. However, as discussed later in conducting wolf monitoring, nonlethal
We therefore do not foresee that Factor D, there are potential concerns control, and research will remain
impacts to suitable and potentially that human-caused mortality associated around 3 percent of the wolves
suitable habitat will occur at levels that with management of wolves in captured, and will be an insignificant
will significantly affect wolf numbers or Wyoming as predatory animals could source of mortality to the wolf
distribution or affect population exceed sustainable levels. population.
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recovery and long-term viability in the Since their listing under the ESA, no Education—We are unaware of any
NRM wolf DPS. Occupied suitable gray wolves have been legally killed or wolves that have been legally removed
habitat is secured by core recovery areas removed from the wild in the NRM wolf from the wild for solely educational
in northwestern Montana, central Idaho, DPS for commercial, recreational, or purposes in recent years. Wolves that
and the GYA. These areas include educational purposes. In the area of the are used for such purposes are usually
Glacier, Teton, and Yellowstone tentative NRM wolf DPS, about 3 the captive-reared offspring of wolves

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that were already in captivity for other allow public take of wolves for al. 1995; Kreeger 2003). The EIS on gray
reasons. However, States may get recreational or commercial purposes. wolf reintroduction identified disease
requests to place wolves that would Regulated hunting and trapping are impact as an issue, but did not evaluate
otherwise be euthanized in captivity for traditional and effective wildlife it further, as it appeared to be
research or educational purposes. Such management tools that are to be applied insignificant (Service 1994). Infectious
requests have been, and will continue to to help achieve State and Tribal wolf disease induced by parasitic organisms
be, rare; would be closely regulated by management objectives as needed. is a normal feature of the life of wild
the State wildlife management agencies In summary, the States have animals and the typical wild animal
through the requirement for state organizations and regulatory and hosts a broad multi-species community
permits for protected species; and enforcement systems in place to limit of potentially harmful parasitic
would not substantially increase human-caused mortality of resident organisms (Wobeser 2002). We fully
human-caused wolf mortality rates. wildlife (except for wolves in anticipate that these diseases and
Commercial and Recreational Uses— Wyoming). Montana and Idaho State parasites will follow the same pattern
In the States where wolves would be plans commit these States to regulate all seen in other areas of North America
considered for delisting, except take of wolves, including that for (Brand et al. 1995; Bailey et al. 1995;
Wyoming, any subsequent legal take commercial, recreational, scientific and Kreeger 2003) and will not significantly
would be regulated by State or Tribal educational purposes, and will threaten wolf population viability.
law so that it would not jeopardize each incorporate any tribal harvest as part of Nevertheless, because these diseases
the overall level of allowable take to and parasites, and perhaps others, have
State’s share of the NRM wolf
ensure that the wolf population does not the potential to impact wolf population
population (See Factor D). Currently,
fall below the NRM wolf population’s distribution and demographics, careful
Wyoming State law does not regulate
numerical and distributional recovery monitoring (as per the State wolf
human-caused mortality to wolves
levels. If Wyoming’s regulatory management plans) will track such
throughout most of Wyoming (See factor
framework is modified and approved by events. Should such an outbreak occur,
D for a more detailed description of this
the Service, and if delisting were to human-caused mortality would be
issue). This was one of the primary
occur, the States and Tribes would regulated in an area and over an
reasons the Service did not approve
regulate human-caused morality for appropriate time period by the State to
Wyoming’s plan. Because wolves are
recreational and commercial uses to ensure populations are maintained
highly territorial, wolf populations in ensure it is not excessive or does not above recovered levels.
saturated habitat naturally limit further jeopardize wolf population goals. The Canine Parvovirus (CPV) infects
population increases through wolf-to- States and Tribes have humane and wolves, domestic dogs, foxes, coyotes,
wolf conflict or dispersal to unoccupied professional animal handling protocols skunks, and raccoons. The population
habitat. Wolf populations can maintain and trained personnel that will ensure impacts of CPV occur via diarrhea-
themselves despite a sustained human- that population monitoring and research induced dehydration leading to
caused mortality rate of 30 percent or results in few unintentional mortalities. abnormally high pup mortality (WI DNR
more per year (Keith 1983; Fuller et al. Furthermore, the state permitting 1999a). Clinical CPV is characterized by
2003), and human-caused mortality can process for captive wildlife and animal severe hemorrhagic diarrhea and
replace up to 70 percent of natural care will ensure that few, if any wolves, vomiting-debility and subsequent
morality (Fuller et al. 2003). This means will be removed from the wild solely for mortality is a result of dehydration,
that wolf populations are quite resilient educational purposes. electrolyte imbalances, and shock. The
to human-caused mortality if it can be CPV has been detected in nearly every
regulated. The States would regulate C. Disease or Predation
wolf population in North America
human-caused mortality to manipulate As discussed in detail below, there including Alaska (Bailey et al. 1995;
wolf distribution and overall population are a wide range of diseases that may Brand et al. 1995; Kreeger 2003) and
size to help reduce conflicts with affect the NRM wolf DPS. However, exposure in wolves is thought to be
livestock and, in some cases, human there are no indications that these almost universal. Currently, nearly 100
hunting of big game, just as they do for diseases are of such magnitude that the percent of the wolves handled by
other resident species of wildlife. The DPS is in danger of extinction, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (M.
States (except for Wyoming) and Tribes particularly within the core areas of Atkinson, Montana Fish, Wildlife and
would allow regulated public harvest of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Parks, pers. comm., 2005) had blood
surplus wolves in the NRM wolf Similarly, there are no indications that antibodies indicating exposure to CPV.
population for commercial and predation poses a significant threat to CPV contributed to low pup survival in
recreational purposes by regulated the NRM wolf DPS. The rates of the northern range of YNP in 1999 and
private and guided hunting and mortality caused by disease and is suspected to have done so again in
trapping. Such take and any commercial predation are well within acceptable 2005 (Smith, pers. comm., 2005).
use of wolf pelts or other parts would limits and there is no reason to expect However, the impact to the overall NRM
be regulated by State or Tribal law (See those rates to change appreciably if wolf population was localized and
discussion of State laws and plans in wolves were delisted in the DPS. temporary, as has been documented
Factor D). The regulated take of those Disease—Wolves in the NRM wolf elsewhere (Bailey et al. 1995, Brand et
surplus wolves would not affect wolf DPS are exposed to a wide variety of al. 1995, Kreeger 2003).
population recovery or viability in the diseases and parasites that are common Canine distemper is an acute, fever-
NRM wolf DPS because the states of throughout North America. Many causing disease of carnivores caused by
Montana and Idaho (and Wyoming, if its diseases (viruses and bacteria, many a paramyxo-virus (Kreeger 2003). It is
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plan is approved in the future), would protozoa and fungi) and parasites common in domestic dogs and some
allow such take only for wolves that are (helminthes and arthropods) have been wild canids, such as coyotes and foxes
surplus to achieving the State’s reported for the gray wolf, and several in the areas of the NRM wolf DPS
commitment to maintaining a recovered of them have had significant, but (Kreeger 2003). The seroprevalence in
population. Current state laws in temporary impacts during wolf recovery North American wolves is about 17
Washington, Oregon, and Utah do not in the 48 conterminous States (Brand et percent (Kreeger 2003). Nearly 85

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percent of Montana wolf blood samples and 0 percent of 13 packs in 2005, may increase if wolf densities increase.
analyzed in 2005 had blood antibodies showed evidence of mange. Mange has However, because wolf densities appear
indicating non-lethal exposure to canine not been confirmed in wolves from to be stabilizing (Service et al. 2005),
distemper (Atkinson pers. comm. 2005). Idaho or northwestern Montana. In wolf-to-wolf contacts will not likely
Mortality in wolves has only been packs with the most severe infestations, lead to a continuing increase in disease
documented in Canada (Carbyn 1992), pup survival appeared low and some prevalence (Mech in litt. 1998). The
Alaska (Peterson et al. 1984, Bailey et al. adults died (Jimenez in prep.). In wolves’ exposure to these types of
1995), and in a single Wisconsin pup addition, we euthanized three wolves organisms may be most common outside
(Wydeven and Wiedenhoeft 2003b). with severe mange. We predict that of the core population areas, where
Distemper is not a major mortality factor mange in the NRM wolf DPS will act as domestic dogs are most common, and
in wolves, because despite exposure to it has in other parts of North America lowest in the core population areas
the virus, affected wolf populations (Brand et al. 1995; Kreeger 2003) and because wolves tend to flow out of, not
demonstrate good recruitment (Brand et not threaten wolf population viability. into, saturated habitats. Despite this
al. 1995). Mortality from canine Evidence suggests NRM wolves will not dynamic, we assume that all wolves in
distemper has never been documented be infested on a chronic population- the NRM wolf DPS have some exposure
in the NRM wolf DPS despite the wide level given the recent response of to all diseases and parasites in the
wolves’ high exposure to it. Wyoming wolf packs that naturally system. Diseases or parasites have not
Lyme disease, caused by the overcame mange infestation. been a significant threat to wolf
spirochete bacterium, is spread Dog-biting lice (Trichodectes canis) population recovery in the NRM to date,
primarily by deer ticks (Ixodes commonly feed on domestic dogs, but nor are they likely to be.
dammini). Host species include can infest coyotes and wolves (Schwartz In terms of future monitoring, each
humans, horses, dogs, white-tailed deer, et al. 1983; Mech et al. 1985). The lice post-delisting management entity (State,
mule deer, elk, white-footed mice, can attain severe infestations, Tribal, and Federal) in the NRM wolf
eastern chipmunks, coyotes, and particularly in pups. The worst DPS has wildlife agency specialists with
wolves. Lyme disease has not been infestations can result in severe sophisticated wildlife health monitoring
reported from wolves beyond the Great scratching, irritated and raw skin, protocols, including assistance from
Lakes regions (Wisconsin Department of substantial hair loss particularly in the veterinarians, disease experts, and
Natural Resources 1999a; Johnson et al. groin, and poor condition. While no wildlife health laboratories. Each State
1994). In those populations, it does not wolf mortality has been confirmed, has committed to monitor the NRM wolf
appear to cause adult mortality, but death from exposure and/or secondary population for significant disease and
might be suppressing population growth infection following self-inflicted trauma parasite problems (See State plans in
by decreased wolf pup survival. caused by the inflammation and itching, Factor D). These State wildlife health
Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite appears possible. For the first time, we programs often cooperate with Federal
(Sarcoptes scabeii) that infests the skin. confirmed dog-biting lice in two agencies and universities and usually
The irritation caused by feeding and members of the Battlefield pack in the have both reactive and proactive
burrowing mites results in intense Big Hole Valley of southwestern wildlife health monitoring protocols.
itching resulting in scratching and Montana in 2005, but their infestations Reactive strategies are the periodic
severe fur loss, which can lead to were not severe. Its source is unknown, intensive investigations after disease or
mortality from exposure during severe but was likely domestic dogs. parasite problems have been detected
winter weather or secondary infections Rabies, canine heartworm, through routine management practices,
(Kreeger 2003). Advanced sarcoptic blastomycosis, brucellosis, neosporsis, such as pelt examination, reports from
mange can involve the entire body and leptospirosis, bovine tuberculosis, hunters, research projects, or population
can cause emaciation, decreased flight canine coronavirus, hookworm, monitoring. Proactive strategies often
distance, staggering, and death (Kreeger coccidiosis, and canine hepatitis have involve ongoing routine investigation of
2003). In a long-term Alberta wolf study, all been documented in wild gray wildlife health information through
higher wolf densities were correlated wolves, but their impacts on future wild collection and analysis of blood and
with increased incidence of mange, and wolf populations are not likely to be tissue samples from all or a sub-sample
pup survival decreased as the incidence significant (Brand et al. 1995; Johnson of wildlife carcasses or live animals that
of mange increased (Brand et al. 1995). 1995; Mech and Kurtz 1999; Thomas in are handled.
Mange has been shown to temporarily litt. 1998; Wisconsin Department of Natural Predation—There are no wild
affect wolf population growth rates and Natural Resources 1999; Kreeger 2003). animals that routinely prey on gray
perhaps wolf distribution (Kreeger Canid rabies caused local population wolves (Ballard et al. 2003).
2003). declines in Alaska (Ballard 1997) and Occasionally wolves have been killed by
Mange has been detected in, and may temporarily limit population large prey such as elk, deer, bison, and
caused mortality to, wolves in the NRM, growth or distribution where another moose (Mech and Nelson 1989; Smith et
but almost exclusively in the GYA, and species, such as arctic foxes, act as a al. 2000; Mech and Peterson 2003).
primarily east of the continental divide reservoir for the disease. Range Since NRM wolves have been
(Jimenez et al. in prep.). Those wolves expansion could provide new avenues monitored, only three wolves have been
likely contracted mange from coyotes or for exposure to several of these diseases, confirmed killed by other large
fox whose populations experience especially canine heartworm, rabies, predators. Two adults were killed by
occasional outbreaks. In southwestern bovine tuberculosis, and possibly new mountain lions and one pup was killed
Montana, 8 percent of 12 packs in 2003, diseases such as Chronic Wasting by a grizzly bear (Jimenez et al. in
24 percent of 17 packs in 2004, and 61 Disease and West Nile Virus (Thomas in prep.). Wolves in the NRM inhabit the
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percent of 18 packs in 2005 showed litt. 2000), further emphasizing the need same areas as mountain lions, grizzly
evidence of mange, although not all for vigilant disease monitoring bears, and black bears, but conflicts
members of every pack appeared programs. rarely result in the death of either
infested. In Wyoming, east of the YNP, Since several of the diseases and species. Wolves evolved with other
12.5 percent of 8 packs in 2003, 22 parasites are known to be spread by large predators, and no other large
percent of 9 packs in 2003 and 2004, wolf-to-wolf contact, their incidence predators in North America, except

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6650 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

humans, have the potential to destroyed or concealed by the too small to radio-collar. Agency control
significantly impact wolf populations. perpetrators. While human-caused of problem wolves and illegal killing are
Wolves are occasionally killed by prey mortality, including illegal killing, has the two largest causes of wolf death; and
they are attacking, but those instances not prevented population recovery, it combined they removed nearly 20
are few. Since the 1980s, wolves in the has affected wolf distribution in the percent of the population annually and
NRM have died from wounds they NRM wolf DPS (Bangs et al. 2004). No are responsible for 60 percent of all
received while attacking prey (elk, wolf packs have successfully known wolf death.
moose, and bison) on about a dozen established and persisted solely in open Wolf mortality from agency control of
occasions. That level of mortality could prairie or high desert habitats that are problem wolves (which includes legal
not significantly affect wolf population used for intensive agriculture take by private individuals under
viability or stability. production in the past 20 years (Service defense of property regulations in
Other wolves are the largest cause of et al. 2005). section 10(j) rules) is estimated to
natural ‘‘predation’’ among wolves. As part of the interagency wolf remove around 10 percent of the adult
Numerous mortalities have resulted monitoring program and various radio-collared wolves annually. Since
from territorial conflicts between wolves research projects, up to 30 percent of the 1995, 28 wolves have been legally killed
and about 3 percent of the wolf NRM wolf population has been radio- by private citizens under Federal
population is removed annually by collared since the 1980s. The annual defense of property regulations (Service
territorial conflict in the NRM wolf DPS survival rate of mature wolves in 1994 and 2005) that, except for
(Smith, pers. comm., 2005). Wherever northwestern Montana and adjacent Wyoming, are similar to State laws that
wolf packs occur, including the NRM, Canada from 1984 to 1995, was 80 would take effect and direct take of
some low level of wolf mortality will percent (Pletscher et al. 1997); 84 problem wolves by both the public and
result from territorial conflict. Wolf percent for resident wolves and 66 agencies if wolves were delisted.
populations tend to regulate their own percent for dispersers. That study found Agency control removed 292 problem
density. Consequently territorial conflict 84 percent of wolf mortality to be wolves from 1987 to 2004, indicating
is highest in saturated habitats. That human-caused. Bangs et al. (1998) that private citizen take under State
cause of mortality is infrequent and found similar statistics, with humans defense of property laws will not
does not cause a level of mortality that causing most wolf mortality. Radio- significantly increase the overall rate of
would significantly affect a wolf collared wolves in the largest blocks of problem wolf removal. Wolves have
population’s viability in the NRM wolf remote habitat without livestock, such been illegally killed by shooting and
DPS. (Smith, pers. comm., 2005) as central Idaho and YNP, had annual poisoning, and radio collar tracking data
Human-caused Predation—Wolves survival rates around 80 percent (Smith, indicate that illegal killing is as
are very susceptible to human-caused pers. comm., 2005). Wolves outside of common a cause of wolf death as agency
mortality especially in open habitats large remote areas had survival rates as control, also removing around 10
such as those that occur in the western low as 54 percent in some years. This percent the adult wolf population
United States (Bangs et al. 2004). An is among the lower end of adult wolf annually. A comparison of the overall
active eradication program is the sole survival rates that an isolated wolf population and the number of
reason that wolves were extirpated from population segment can sustain (Fuller wolves removed using different analysis
the NRM (Weaver 1978). Humans kill et al. 2003; Smith, pers. comm., 2005). than just radio-collared wolves indicates
wolves for a number of reasons. In all Some information suggests these agency control removes, on average,
locations where people, livestock, and numbers could be overestimated, while about 6 percent of the overall wolf
wolves coexist, some wolves are killed other information suggests it could be population annually (Service et al.
to resolve conflicts with livestock (Fritts underestimated. Wolves are more likely 2005). Wolf mortality under State and
et al. in Mech and Boitani 2003). to be radio-collared if they come into Tribal defense of property regulations,
Occasionally wolf killings are accidental conflict with people, so the proportion incidental to other legal activities,
(e.g., wolves are hit by vehicles, of mortality caused by agency agency control of problem wolves, and
mistaken for coyotes and shot, or caught depredation control actions could be legal hunting and trapping would be
in traps set for other animals) (Service overestimated by radio-telemetry data. regulated by the States and Tribes if the
et al. 2005). Some of these accidental People who illegally kill wolves may ESA’s protections were removed.
killings are reported to State, Tribal, and destroy the radio-collar, so the Regulated wolf mortality is to be
Federal authorities. proportion of illegal mortality could be managed so it would not reduce wolf
However, many wolf killings are under-estimated. However, the wolf numbers or distribution below recovery
intentional, illegal, and are never populations have continued to expand levels. This issue is discussed further
reported to authorities. Wolves do not in the face of ongoing levels of human- below under Factor D.
appear particularly wary of people caused mortality. The overall causes and rates of annual
(Boyd 2003) or human activity, and that An ongoing preliminary analysis of wolf mortality vary based upon a wide
makes them very vulnerable to human- the survival data among NRM radio- number of variables. Wolves in higher
caused mortality (Mech and Boitani collared wolves (n = 716) (Smith, pers. quality suitable habitat such as remote,
2003). In the NRM, mountain comm., 2005) from 1984 through 2004 forested areas with few livestock, like
topography concentrates both wolf and indicates that about 26 percent of the National Parks, have higher survival
human activity in valley bottoms (Boyd adult-sized wolves die every year, so rates. Wolves in unsuitable habitat and
and Pletscher 1997), especially in annual adult survival averages about 74 areas without substantial refugia have
winter, which increases wolf exposure percent, which typically results in wolf higher overall mortality rates. Mortality
to human-caused mortality. The number population growth (Keith 1983; Fuller rates also vary whether the wolves are
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of illegal killings is difficult to estimate 2003). Humans caused just over 75 resident pack members or dispersers, if
and impossible to accurately determine percent of all radio-collared wolf deaths they have a history with livestock
because they generally occur in areas (Smith, pers. comm., 2005). This type of depredation, or have been relocated
with few witnesses. Often the evidence analysis does not estimate the cause or (Bradley et al. 2005). However, overall
has decayed by the time the wolf’s rate of survival among pups younger wolf mortality has been low enough
carcass is discovered or the evidence is than 7 months of age because they are from 1987 until the present time that the

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wolf population in the NRM has and 100 wolves per State by managing the DPS is more liberal than in the areas
steadily increased, and is now at least for a safety margin of 15 packs in each where wolves are listed as endangered.
twice as numerous as needed to meet State. However, we have been unable to In the area of the DPS where wolves are
recovery levels (Service 1987, 1994). approve the Wyoming plan because it listed as endangered, only designated
If the DPS were to be delisted, state does not provide for the same agencies may conduct control under the
management would likely increase the sustainable levels of protection. conservative protocols established by
mortality rate in the NRM wolf the Service’s 1999 wolf control plan. In
population, outside National Parks, Current Wolf Management
the nonessential experimental
National Wildlife Refuges, and Tribal The 1980 and 1987, NRM wolf population areas, wolf control protocols
reservations, from its current level of recovery plans recognized that conflict by agencies and the public are directed
about 26 percent annually. A level of with livestock was the major reason that by the experimental population
wolf mortality as high as 50 percent is wolves were extirpated and that regulations, promulgated under section
typically sustainable on an annual basis management of conflicts was a 10(j) of the ESA (59 FR 60252,
(Fuller et al. 2003). The States, except necessary component of wolf November 22, 1994; 70 FR 1285, January
Wyoming, have the regulatory restoration. The plans also recognized 6, 2005). These regulations specify
authorization and commitment to that control of problem wolves was which wolves can be designated as
regulate human-caused mortality so that necessary to maintain local public problem animals, what forms of control
the wolf population remains above its tolerance of wolves and that removal of are allowed, and who can carry them
numerical and distributional recovery so few wolves would not prevent wolf out.
goals. This issue is discussed further population from achieving recovery. In Current wolf control consists of the
below under Factor D. 1988, the Service developed an interim minimum actions believed necessary to
In summary, human-caused mortality wolf control plan that applied to reduce further depredations, and
to adult radio-collared wolves in the Montana and Wyoming, but was includes a wide variety of non-lethal
NRM wolf DPS that averaged about 20 amended in 1990 to include Idaho and and lethal measures (Bangs and Shivik
percent per year, still allowed for rapid eastern Washington. We analyzed the 2001; Bangs et al. 2004; Bangs et al.
wolf population growth. The protection effectiveness of those plans in 1999, and 2005). However, while helpful, non-
of wolves under the ESA promoted revised our guidelines for management lethal methods to reduce wolf livestock
rapid initial wolf population growth in of problem wolves listed as endangered conflict are often only temporarily
suitable habitat. The States, except for (Service 1999). Evidence showed that effective (Bangs and Shivik 2001; Bangs
Wyoming, have committed to continue most wolves do not attack livestock, et al. 2005; Woodroffe et al. 2005) and
to regulate human-caused mortality so especially larger livestock, such as adult by themselves do not offer effective
that it does not reduce the wolf horses and cattle (Bangs et al. 2005). long-term solutions to chronic livestock
population below recovery levels. Therefore, we developed a set of damage. For instance, relocation of
Except for Wyoming, the States have guidelines under which depredating problem wolves is typically ineffective
adequate laws and regulations (See wolves could be harassed, moved, or at reducing conflicts or allowing
discussion of adequate regulatory killed by agency officials to prevent problem wolves to contribute to
mechanisms and Wyoming State law chronic livestock depredation. The population recovery if vacant suitable
under Factor D.). Each post-delisting control plans were based on the premise habitat is not available (Bradley et al.
management entity (State, Tribal, and that agency wolf control actions would 2005). Since 2001, all suitable areas for
Federal) has experienced and affect only a small number of wolves, wolves have been filled with resident
professional wildlife staff to ensure but would sustain public tolerance for packs and consequently most wolves
those commitments can be non-depredating wolves, thus that repeatedly depredate on livestock
accomplished. enhancing the chances for successful are now removed from the population
population recovery (Mech 1995). Our (Service et al. 2005). Between 1987 and
D. The Adequacy or Inadequacy of
assumptions have proven correct, as 2005, we removed 292 wolves and
Existing Regulatory Mechanisms
wolf depredation on livestock and relocated wolves 117 times to reduce
To address this factor, we compare subsequent agency control actions have the potential for chronic conflicts with
the current regulatory mechanisms remained at low levels, and the wolf livestock. Of those wolves, 19 wolves
within the DPS with the future population has expanded its incurred injuries from capture/
mechanisms that will provide the distribution and numbers far beyond, relocation that ultimately resulted in
framework for wolf management after and more quickly than, earlier their death or removal from the wild (7
delisting. These regulatory mechanisms predictions (Service 1994; Service et al. in Montana, 8 in Idaho, 4 in Wyoming).
are carried out by the State governments 2005). Accidental mortality from capture
included in the DPS, with the main The conflict between wolves and during non-lethal control was low (3
emphasis placed on those States that livestock has resulted in the average percent) and not a significant portion of
make up the significant portion of the annual removal of 6–10 percent of the total mortality in the wolf population.
range in the DPS, Idaho, Montana, and wolf population (Bangs et al. 1995; At the end of 2004, 62 to 100 percent
Wyoming. State and Tribal programs are Bangs et al. 2004, 2005; Service et al. of the suitable wolf habitat in the NRM
designed to maintain a recovered wolf 2002; Smith, pers. comm., 2005). Illegal wolf DPS was occupied by resident wolf
population while minimizing damage killing removed another 10 percent of packs (see discussion in Factor A). If the
by allowing for removal of wolves in the wolf population and accidental and wolf population continues to expand,
areas of chronic conflict or in unsuitable unintentional human-caused deaths wolves will increasingly disperse into
habitat. The three States have proposed have removed 1 percent of the unsuitable areas that are intensively
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wolf management plans that will govern population annually. used for livestock production. A higher
how wolves are managed if delisted. As Wolves within the NRM DPS are percentage of wolves in those areas will
discussed below, we have approved the classified as either endangered or become involved in conflicts with
Idaho and Montana plan because they members of a non-essential livestock, and a higher percentage of
have proposed management objectives experimental population. Wolf control them will probably be removed to
of maintaining at least 10 breeding pairs in the experimental population areas of reduce future livestock damage. Human-

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6652 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

caused mortality would have to remove USDA/APHIS-Wildlife Services (USDA– issues were key to the Service approving
34 percent or more of the wolf WS) specialists using standard the plans. First the States had to provide
population annually before population techniques (Roy and Dorrance 1976; regulations that would allow regulatory
growth would cease (Fuller et al. 2003). Fritts et al. 1992; Paul and Gipson control, define a pack biologically
Preliminary wolf survival data from 1994). If the investigation confirms wolf consistent with the Service’s definition
radio telemetry studies suggests that involvement, USDA–WS specialists of breeding pair, and manage the
adult wolf mortality resulting from conduct the wolf control measures that population to maintain those pairs/
conflict could be doubled to an average we specify. If the incident occurred in packs above recovery levels.
of 12 to 20 percent annually and still Idaho, USDA–WS also coordinates with The final Service determination of the
not significantly impact wolf population Nez Perce Tribal personnel. Since the adequacy of those three State
recovery (Smith, pers. comm.). The beginning of 2005, USDA–WS began to management plans was based on the
State management laws and plans will coordinate and conduct wolf control in combination of Service knowledge of
balance the level of wolf mortality with cooperation with Montana Fish, State law, the management plans, wolf
the recovery goals in each State. Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) and, since biology, peer review, and the States’
One of the most important factors the beginning of 2006 with the Idaho response to the peer review. Those State
affecting the level of wolf/livestock Department of Fish and Game (IDFG), plans and our recommendations can be
conflict and need for wolf control is the who lead wolf management in their viewed at: http://
availability of wild ungulate prey. States under a cooperative agreement westerngraywolf.fws.gov/. The Service
Important wild ungulate prey in the and a Memorandum of Agreement with determined that Montana and Idaho’s
NRM wolf DPS are elk, white-tailed the Service, respectively. All laws and wolf management plans were
deer, mule deer, moose, and (only in the investigations of suspected wolf damage adequate to assure the Service that their
GYA) bison. A large decline in native on Tribal lands and wolf control are share of the NRM wolf population
ungulate populations could result in an conducted in full cooperation with, and would be maintained above recovery
increase in conflicts with livestock and under approval by, the affected Tribe. A levels. Therefore, we approved those
the level of wolf control. private program has compensated two State plans.
Changes in livestock availability have ranchers full market value for However, we determined that
also changed the rate of livestock confirmed, and one-half market value problems with the Wyoming legislation
depredations by wolves, thus for probable wolf kills of livestock and and its management plan did not allow
necessitating control actions. Nearly livestock guard animals (Defenders of us to approve its approach to wolf
100,000 wild ungulates were estimated Wildlife 2002; Fischer 1989). That management. In response, Wyoming
in the GYA and northwestern Montana, program paid an average of $75,580 litigated this issue (Wyoming U.S.
and 250,000 in central Idaho where wolf annually from 2000 to 2004. District Court 04–CV–0123–J and 04–
packs currently exist. However, CV–0253–J consolidated). The Wyoming
domestic ungulates, primarily cattle and Regulatory Assurances in States Within Federal District Court dismissed the
sheep, are typically twice as numerous the Significant Portion of the Range case on procedural grounds. Wyoming
in those same areas, even on public In 1999, the Governors of Montana, has appealed that decision and the case
lands (Service 1994). The only areas Idaho, and Wyoming agreed that is under consideration by the Tenth
large enough to support wolf packs regional coordination in wolf Circuit Court of Appeals.
where the prey is mostly wild ungulates management planning among the States, Since no wolves currently live in
are YNP, Glacier National Park Tribes, and other jurisdictions would be Washington, Oregon, or Utah (the NRM
including adjacent USFS wilderness, necessary to ensure timely delisting. wolf population lives only in Montana,
and parts of wilderness areas in central They signed a memorandum of Idaho, and Wyoming), and there is very
Idaho and northwestern Montana. understanding to facilitate cooperation little suitable habitat in the NRM wolf
Consequently, many wolf pack among the three States in developing DPS outside of that currently occupied
territories have included areas used by adequate State wolf management plans in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, we
livestock, primarily cattle (Bradley so that delisting could proceed. did not request the other three States to
2002). This overlap between wolf pack Governors from the three States prepare wolf management plans.
territories and livestock has led to the renewed that agreement in April 2002. Furthermore, any potential wolves
conflict between wolves and livestock The wolf population in the NRM outside of Montana, Idaho, and
because depredation control practices achieved its numerical, distributional, Wyoming are not needed to maintain
discourage chronic use of livestock as and temporal recovery goal, as specified the recovered wolf population.
prey. in the recovery plan, in December 2002. However, we reviewed the regulatory
Other management control tools used However, to delist the species we framework of all States within the NRM
for managing wolf conflict were using realized that regulatory assurances wolf DPS to assess all potential threats
shoot-on-site permits to private would be necessary and therefore, we to that wolf population.
landowners and allowing take of wolves requested that the States of Montana, Montana—The gray wolf was listed
in the act of attacking or molesting Idaho, and Wyoming prepare State wolf under the Montana Nongame and
livestock, pets or other domestic management plans to demonstrate how Endangered Species Conservation Act of
animals. Since 1995, only 28 (less than they would manage wolves after the 1973 (87–5–101 MCA). Senate Bill 163
7 percent of the 292 wolves removed for protections of the ESA were removed. was passed by the Montana Legislature
livestock depredations from 1987 to The Service provided various degrees of and signed into law by the Governor in
2004) experimental population wolves funding and assistance to the States 2001. It establishes the current legal
were shot by private landowners under while they developed their wolf statutes for wolves in Montana. Upon
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shoot-on-sight permits in areas of management plans. Federal delisting, wolves would be


chronic livestock depredation or as they To provide the necessary regulatory classified and protected under Montana
attacked or harassed livestock. assurances after delisting, we law as a ‘‘Species in Need of
In the NRM wolf recovery area, encouraged the States in the significant Management’’ (87–5–101 to 87–5–123)
reports of suspected wolf-caused portion of the range to regulate human- which are primarily managed through
damage to livestock are investigated by caused mortality of wolves. Several regulation of all forms of human-caused

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mortality in a manner similar to trophy commits to implement its management citizens in defense of private property,
game animals like mountain lions and framework in a manner that encourages and when the population is above 15
black bears. The MFWP and the MFWP connectivity among wolf populations in packs, some regulated hunting of
Commission would then finalize more Canada, Idaho, GYA, and Montana to wolves. Montana wildlife regulations
detailed administrative rules, as is maintain the overall meta-population allowing take in defense of private
typically done for other resident structure. Montana’s plan predicts that property are similar to the 2005
wildlife, but they must be consistent under State management the wolf experimental population regulations
with the approved Montana wolf plan population would increase to between whereby landowners and livestock
and State law. Classification as a 328 wolves or 27 breeding pairs and 657 grazing permittees can shoot wolves
‘‘Species in Need of Management’’ and wolves or 54 breeding pairs by 2015. seen attacking or molesting livestock or
the associated administrative rules An important ecological factor pets as long as such incidents are
under Montana State law create the determining wolf distribution in reported promptly and subsequent
legal mechanism to protect wolves and Montana is the availability and investigations confirmed that livestock
regulate human-caused mortality distribution of wild ungulates. Montana were being attacked by wolves. The
beyond the immediate defense of life/ has a rich, diverse, and widely MFWP intends to enlist and direct
property situations. Some illegal distributed prey base on both public and USDA–WS in problem wolf
human-caused mortality will still occur, private lands. The MFWP has and will management, just as the Service has
but is to be prosecuted under State law continue to manage wild ungulates done since 1987.
and MFWP Commission regulations according to MFWP Commission- When the Service reviewed and
which would tend to minimize any approved policy direction and species approved the Montana wolf plan, we
potential effect on the wolf population. management plans. The plans typically stated that Montana’s wolf management
In 2001, the Governor of Montana describe a management philosophy that plan would maintain a recovered wolf
appointed the Montana Wolf protects the long-term sustainability of population and minimize conflicts with
Management Advisory Council to advise the ungulate populations, allows other traditional activities in Montana’s
MFWP regarding wolf management after recreational hunting of surplus game, landscape. The Service has every
the species is removed from the lists of and aims to keep the population within confidence Montana will implement the
Federal and State-protected species. In management objectives based on commitments it made in its current
August 2003, MFWP completed a final ecological and social considerations. laws, regulations, and wolf plan.
EIS as required by Montana State law, The MFWP takes a proactive approach Idaho—The Idaho Department of Fish
and recommended that the Updated to integrate management of ungulates and Game (IDFG) Commission has
Advisory Council alternative be selected and carnivores. Ungulate harvest is to be authority to classify wildlife under
as Montana’s Final Gray Wolf balanced with maintaining sufficient Idaho Code 36–104(b) and 36–201. The
Conservation and Management Plan. prey populations to sustain Montana’s wolf was classified as endangered until
See http://www.fwp.state.mt.us to view segment of a recovered wolf population. March 2005, when the IDFG
the MFWP Final EIS and the Montana Ongoing efforts to monitor populations Commission reclassified the gray wolf to
Gray Wolf Conservation and of both ungulates and wolves will a big game animal IDAPA
Management Plan. provide credible, scientific information 13.01.06.100.01.d. The big game
Under the MFWP management plan, for wildlife management decisions. classification will take effect upon
the wolf population would be Wolves would be managed in the Federal delisting, and until then, they
maintained above the recovery levels of same manner as other resident wildlife will be managed under Federal status.
10 breeding pairs in Montana by designated as trophy game, whereby As a big game animal, State regulations
managing for a safety margin of 15 packs human-caused mortality would be will adjust human-caused wolf
(see Post-delisting monitoring section). regulated by methods of take, seasons, mortality to ensure recovery levels are
Montana would manage problem wolves bag limits, areas, and conditions under exceeded. Title 36, in the Idaho statutes,
in a manner similar to the control which defense of property take can currently has laws regarding penalties
program currently being utilized in the occur. In addition all agency control of associated with illegal take of big game
experimental population area in problem wolves would be directed by animals. These rules are consistent with
southern Montana, whereby landowners MFWP. All forms of wolf take would be the legislatively adopted Idaho Wolf
and livestock producers on public land more restricted when there are 15 or Conservation and Management Plan
can shoot wolves seen attacking fewer packs in the State and less (IDP) (2002) and big game hunting
livestock or dogs, and agency control of restricted when there are more than 15 restrictions currently in place. The IDP
problem wolves is incremental and in packs. By managing for 15 packs, MFWP states that wolves will be protected
response to confirmed depredations. would maintain a safety margin to against illegal take as a big game animal
State management of conflicts would assure that the Montana segment of the under Idaho Code 36–1402 and 36–
become more protective of wolves and wolf population would be maintained 1404, and also under the flagrant
no public hunting would be allowed above the 10 breeding pair and 100 wolf violation law Idaho Code 36–202(h) at
when there were less than 15 packs. The minimum population goal. Wolf the costs specified under Idaho Code
States would develop their pack management would include population 36–1404.
definitions to approximate the current monitoring, routine analysis of The IDP was written with the
breeding pair definition, but would population health, management of and assistance and leadership of the Wolf
measure wolf populations by the in concert with prey populations, law Oversight Committee established in
Service’s current pair definition. Wolves enforcement, control of domestic 1992 by the Idaho Legislature. Many
would not be deliberately confined to animal/human conflicts, consideration special interest groups including
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any specific areas of Montana, but their of a wolf-damage compensation legislators, sportsmen, livestock
distribution and numbers would be program, research, and information and producers, conservationists, and IDFG
managed adaptively based upon public outreach. personnel were involved in the
ecological factors, wolf population State regulations would allow agency development of the IDP. The Service
status, conflict mitigation, and human management of problem wolves by provided technical advice to the
social tolerance. The MFWP plan MFWP and USDA–WS, take by private Committee and reviewed numerous

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drafts before the IDP was finalized. In initiative lies outside current wolf range expanded beyond the National Parks
March 2002, the IDP was adopted by and suitable wolf habitat in Idaho, and adjacent wilderness areas to include
joint resolution of the Idaho Legislature. improving ungulate populations and an area roughly west of Cody and north
The IDP can be found at: http:// hunter success will decrease negative of Pinedale, Wyoming, to the Idaho and
www.fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/ attitudes toward wolves. When mule Montana State borders. Any time the
wildlife/wolves/wolf_plan.pdf. deer increase, some wolves may move number of wolf packs outside the
The IDP calls for IDFG to be the into the areas that are being highlighted National Park units increased to 7 or
primary manager of wolves once under the initiative. Habitat more, or there were 15 or more packs in
delisted, and like Montana, to maintain improvements within much of southeast Wyoming, the trophy game designation
a minimum of 15 packs of wolves to Idaho will be focusing on improving is removed and predatory animal status
maintain a substantial margin of safety mule deer conditions. The Clearwater would apply to all wolves outside of the
over the 10 breeding pair minimum and Elk Initiative also is an attempt at National Park units and the adjacent
to manage them as a viable self- improving elk numbers in the area of wilderness areas. The areas where the
sustaining population that will never the Clearwater Region in north Idaho predatory animal designation applies
require relisting under the ESA. Wolf where currently IDFG has concerns would change back and forth every 90
take will be more liberal if there are over about the health of that once-abundant days based on the number of wolf packs.
15 packs and more conservative if there elk herd. The State law removes the legal
are fewer than 15 packs in Idaho. The Wolves are currently classified as authorization for the WYGF to manage
wolf population will be managed by endangered under Idaho State law, but wolves, unless there are fewer than 7
defense of property regulations similar if delisted under the ESA they would be packs outside the National Parks and
to those now in effect under the ESA. classified and protected as big game there are less than 15 packs in
Public harvest will be incorporated as a under Idaho fish and game code. Wyoming, including those in the
management tool when there are 15 or Human-caused mortality would be National Park units. Under such
more packs in Idaho to help mitigate regulated as directed by the IDP to conditions, WYGF would temporarily
conflicts with livestock producers or big maintain a recovered wolf population. gain authority to manage wolves, but
game populations that outfitters and The Service has every confidence Idaho that authority would end when pack
guides and others hunt. The IDP allows will implement the commitments it numbers increased to 15 in the State or
IDFG to classify the wolf as a big game made in its current laws, regulations, 7 outside the National Park units and
animal, furbearer, or special and wolf plan. adjacent wilderness areas. WYGF, being
classification of predator so that human- Wyoming—In 2003, Wyoming passed the wildlife agency in Wyoming, already
caused mortality can be regulated. In a State law that, upon delisting from the manages other large predators and wolf
March 2005, the IDFG Commission ESA, would designate wolves as trophy prey. They have the professional
proposed that upon delisting the wolf game in limited areas in Wyoming, knowledge and skill that is necessary to
would be classified as a big game animal Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton make appropriate decisions to
with the intent of managing them National Park, John D. Rockefeller effectively manage wolves in the State
similar to black bears and mountain Memorial Parkway, and the adjacent and need the management authority in
lions, including regulated public harvest USFS designated wilderness areas. The order to accomplish this.
when populations are above 15 packs. ‘‘trophy game’’ status allows the The State wolf management plan
The IDP calls for the State to coordinate Wyoming Game and Fish Commission generally attempts to implement the
with USDA-WS to manage depredating and Wyoming Game and Fish State law, with some notable
wolves depending on the number of Department (WYGF) to regulate the exceptions. It is different than State law
wolves in the State, allowing more method of take, seasons, types, and in that it only commits to maintaining
liberal control when wolf populations numbers that can be killed. However, 7 or more wolf packs outside the
exceed 15 packs and more this classification changes to ‘‘predatory National Park units and assumed 8
conservatively when there are less than animal’’ depending on the number of packs would be present in National Park
15 packs. It also calls for a balanced wolf packs in specific areas in units. ‘‘Trophy game’’ status would be
educational effort. Wyoming. When wolves are classified enacted over the larger area (roughly
Elk and deer populations are managed as a ‘‘predatory animal’’ they are under that part of northwestern Wyoming east
to meet biological and social objectives the jurisdiction of the Wyoming of Cody and north of Pinedale) only if
for each herd unit according to the Department of Agriculture. Species there were 7 or fewer packs outside the
State’s species management plans. The designated as ‘‘predatory animals’’ are Park units. The area of predatory animal
IDFG will manage both ungulates and considered pests, and may be taken by status would remain in effect over the
carnivores, including wolves, to anyone, at any time, without limit, and remainder of Wyoming regardless of the
maintain viable populations of each. by any means, except poison. number of packs.
Ungulate harvest will be focused on State law defined a pack as five Like State law, the plan allows
maintaining sufficient prey populations wolves traveling together. When there livestock owners to shoot wolves
to sustain viable wolf and other are 7 or more wolf packs in Wyoming designated as trophy game to defend
carnivore populations and hunting. outside of the Yellowstone and Grand their livestock and pets on private and
IDFG has implemented research to Teton National Parks, the Parkway, and public land from wolf attack or
better understand the impacts of wolves adjacent wilderness areas or there are 15 harassment. The plan commits to
and their relationships to ungulate or more wolf packs in Wyoming, all intensive wolf monitoring using
population sizes and distribution so that wolves in Wyoming outside of those standard methods, routine monitoring of
regulated take of wolves can be used to two National Parks and the adjacent diseases and wolf physical
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assist in management of ungulate wilderness areas would be classified as characteristics through mandatory
populations and vice versa. predatory animals. If there are fewer reporting of wolf kills and pelts, and a
The Mule Deer Initiative in southeast than 7 packs outside of the National balanced information and education
Idaho was implemented by IDFG in Parks and less than 15 packs in program about wolves in Wyoming.
2005 to restore and improve mule deer Wyoming, the area where wolves would Wyoming’s State law and its wolf
populations. Though most of the be classified as trophy game would be management plan were not approved by

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the Service as an adequate regulatory States. To approve the Wyoming State depends on Yellowstone National Park
mechanism to maintain a recovered plan, the law and the management plan having at least eight packs. In our
wolf population. We intend to propose needs a definition of pack that is September 9, 2005, weekly wolf report,
to delist the NRM DPS when the State biologically equivalent to the Service’s we provided our annual mid-year
of Wyoming addresses the deficiencies definition of breeding pair, which gives estimate of the wolf population in the
in the State Law and management plan the WYGF the flexibility to manage NRM. That was only an interim count
as discussed below. human-caused mortality for population but it appeared that wolf numbers are
The Service’s recovery goal for each fluctuations. down substantially in Yellowstone
State is maintaining at least 10 breeding In order for the WYGF to manage National Park. Canine parvo-virus is
pairs, and at least 100 wolves per State. human-caused mortality, they need to suspected of causing low pup survival
We define a breeding pair as an adult be given the regulatory authority to in the Park and pack conflicts over
male and an adult female that raise at manage wolves by designating wolves as territory appears to have reduced the
least two pups until December 31. This a trophy game species and allowing number of wolves and packs in the Park
breeding pair definition is likely WYGF to manage for conservation above from 16 breeding pairs and 171 wolves
equivalent to five or six wolves traveling the recovery levels of 10 packs and 100 in 2004, to 6 or 7 breeding pairs and 118
together in winter (our population wolves in the State. Wolves rarely use wolves in 2005 (Service Sept. 9, 2005).
estimates are made for the estimated the wilderness areas outside the Park While there are currently more than 7
wolf population on December 31st of units and many southern Park packs wolf packs outside the Park because of
each year). Our current data support the leave the Park units in winter regularly the Act s protections, it is likely that
concept that 15 packs of 5 or more utilizing habitat in non-wilderness predatory animal status—if
wolves traveling together in winter is public lands and some private lands. implemented at this time—would
equivalent to about 12–15 breeding This means most packs in Wyoming quickly reduce wolf packs outside the
pairs. Winter was picked because would be subject, under predatory Park to minimum levels, and based on
wolves breed in mid-February and the animal status, to unregulated and current conditions only 12–14 packs
major causes of wolf mortality, wolf unlimited human caused mortality. would exist in the State. Wyoming State
control and illegal killing, peak in Only when the number of packs falls law allows no regulation of human-
summer and fall. There is no statistical below seven outside the Park units, caused mortality until the population
difference between using either five or would the predatory animal status be falls below seven packs outside the
six wolves traveling together in winter changed and management by WYGF be Parks. Wyoming’s claim that such
to develop a biological equivalent authorized by State law. This could extensive removal of wolves is unlikely
definition of pack to the current result in unregulated human-caused even if they receive no legal protection
definition of a breeding pair. mortality continuing until the is not supported given the past history
Under Wyoming law, a pack is population was below the minimum of wolf extirpation.
defined as just 5 wolves, however, the state plan objective of seven wolf packs Wyoming State law and predatory
law also allows that if a pack of 10 or outside the Parks. animal status minimizes opportunities
more wolves has more than 2 breeding The more protective and larger trophy for adaptive professional wildlife
females, a single pack could be game area and WYGF’s legal management by WYGF, confines wolf
classified as multiple breeding pairs. authorization to manage sport harvest packs primarily to Yellowstone National
This definition becomes problematic would not go into effect until the Park, depends on at least eight Park wolf
when using it as a biological equivalent population crossed below the 15 pack packs to constitute most of the wolves
to breeding pair because it lacks the threshold and there were less than 7 in Wyoming, and minimizes the number
flexibility to accommodate variations in packs left to protect or manage outside of wolves and wolf packs outside the
pups’ survivability. WYGF needs the of the National Park units. Trophy game Park. We have previously determined
flexibility to react to new scientific status, by itself, would not reduce wolf that Wyoming State law would prohibit
information as it becomes available. For mortality from defense of property by a timely response to manage wolves
instance, in 1999, and again in 2005, Wyoming livestock, pet, and hunting effectively by WYGF should
pup production and survival was dog owners, agency control of problem modification in state management of
significantly decreased. In Wyoming, wolves, or illegal killing, or any natural wolves be needed to prevent the
2002 and 2003, and in Montana, 2004 causes of mortality. Once there were population from falling below recovery
and 2005, mange was infesting some fewer than 15 packs in Wyoming and levels of at least 10 breeding pairs and
packs and wolves with mange were not fewer than 7 packs outside the Park 100 wolves for each of the three core
expected to survive the winter Units, WYGF could do little except States. Based on these inadequacies, the
decreasing the overall population size. decline to authorize additional wolf Service is not assured that Wyoming’s
In these types of situations, five wolves mortality through sport hunting and State law and wolf management plan
traveling together would not be the trapping seasons. This limited authority would maintain the Wyoming segment
equivalent to an adult male and female, and the low thresholds that trigger of the wolf population above recovery
and two pups on December 31st. With change in status mean that the wolf levels.
State law dictating biological population would be at levels too low In accordance with the requirements
definitions, WYGF would be prevented for WYGF to undertake effective action of the ESA and the positive 90 day
from adjusting management and to conserve the wolf population above finding made by the Service on October
potential levels of human-caused recovery levels. WYGF needs to be 25, 2005, the Service is continuing to
mortality even though they recognize given the regulatory authority to carefully review Wyoming’s July 2005
that wolf recruitment was lower than adaptively manage the species petition to delist, its defense of
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normal and any wolves removed from throughout the State of Wyoming to Wyoming’s regulatory framework, and
the population would be less likely to account for fluctuations in population the reasons why Wyoming believes we
be replaced, as was the case in the levels. should consider Wyoming State law and
situations discussed previously. The potential success of the current its wolf plan as an adequate regulatory
Scientific decisions need to be made by Wyoming law and wolf plan to maintain mechanism to propose delisting. At this
WYGF in coordination with the other its share of wolves in the NRM DPS time we continue to believe that current

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State law and the State wolf plan in management will have no effect on the DPS. Wolf management in Utah will
Wyoming do not provide adequate recovered wolf population that resides have no effect on the recovered wolf
regulatory assurances that Wyoming’s in the significant portion of the range of population that resides in suitable
share of the NRM DPS population will Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. habitat in Montana, Idaho, and
be maintained into the foreseeable The Oregon Wolf Management Plan, Wyoming.
future and thus that the overall wolf as approved in February 2005, called for In 2003, the Utah Legislature passed
population’s distribution and numbers 3 legislative actions and included House Joint Resolution 12 (HJR–12),
will be maintained above recovery several provisions that could not be which directed the Utah Division of
levels. However, if Wyoming modified implemented unless certain actions Wildlife Resources (UDWR) to draft a
its State law and its wolf management were taken by the Oregon Legislature. wolf management plan for ‘‘the review,
plan to address the inadequacies The 2005 Oregon Legislative Assembly modification and adoption by the Utah
described above and the Service considered, but did not adopt, the Wildlife Board, through the Regional
approved them, we would then consider proposed legislative actions. As a result, Advisory Council process.’’ In April
proposing the delisting of wolves the Fish and Wildlife Commission is 2003 the Utah Wildlife Board directed
throughout the NRM wolf DPS. currently going through a public review UDWR to develop a proposal for a wolf
process to amend the Oregon Plan and working group to assist the agency in
Regulatory Assurances in Other States discuss legislative proposals. The this endeavor. The UDWR created the
and Tribal Areas Within the DPS Commission remains on record as Wolf Working Group (WWG) in the
Washington—Wolves in all of calling for those legislative summer of 2003. The WWG is
Washington are endangered under State enhancements; however, composed of 13 members that represent
law (RCW 77.12, WAC 232.12.014; these implementation of the Oregon Plan does diverse public interests regarding
provisions may be viewed at: http:// not depend upon them. Formal wolves in Utah.
www.leg.wa.gov/RCW/ amendment of the Oregon Plan is On June 9, 2005, the Utah Wildlife
index.cfm?section= expected to result in a strategy for Board passed the Utah Wolf
77.12.020&fuseaction=section and conserving the gray wolf in Oregon, Management Plan. The goal of the plan
http://www.leg.wa.gov/WAC/ identify the conditions necessary for is to manage, study, and conserve
index.cfm?section=232-12- delisting the wolf under State law, and wolves moving into Utah while
014&fuseaction=section. If the NRM provide management after delisting. avoiding conflicts with the elk and deer
DPS is delisted, those areas in Under the Oregon Department of Fish management objectives of the Ute
Washington included in the NRM wolf and Wildlife management plan, Indian Tribe; minimizing livestock
DPS would still remain listed as conservation of the gray wolf will be depredation; and protecting wild
endangered by Washington State law, directed by established objectives for ungulate populations in Utah from
which prohibits nearly all forms of wolf distribution, population excessive wolf predation. The Utah
human-caused mortality. The areas in management, and monitoring. Wolves Wolf Management Plan can be viewed at
Washington not included in the NRM will not be deliberately confined to any http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/wolf/. Its
DPS would remain listed as endangered specific areas of the State, but their purpose is to guide management of
under both State and Federal law. distribution and numbers will be wolves in Utah during an interim period
At this time, there are no known managed adaptively based upon from Federal delisting until 2015, or
wolves in Washington and there is little ecological factors, wolf population until it is determined that wolves have
suitable habitat in that part of eastern status, conflict mitigation, and human become established in Utah, or the
Washington in the NRM wolf DPS. Wolf social tolerance. assumptions of the plan (political,
management in Washington will have Under the Oregon Wolf Management social, biological, or legal) change.
no effect on the recovered wolf Plan, the gray wolf will remain During this interim period, immigrating
population that resides in the significant classified as endangered under State law wolves will be studied to determine
portion of the range of Montana, Idaho, until the conservation population where they are most likely to settle
and Wyoming. objective for eastern Oregon is reached. without conflict.
There is currently no Washington Once the objective is achieved, the State Tribal Plans—There are about 20
State recovery or management plan for delisting process will be initiated. tribes in this area. Currently no wolf
wolves. However, Interagency Wolf Following delisting from the State ESA, packs live on, or are entirely dependent
Response Guidelines are being wolves will have a classification as on, Tribal lands for their existence in
developed by the Service, WDFW, and nongame wildlife under ORS 496.375. the NRM wolf DPS. In the NRM wolf
USDA–WS to provide a checklist of Utah—If federally delisted, wolves in DPS about 12,719 mi2 (32,942 km2) (3
response actions for five situations that that portion of the NRM wolf DPS in percent) of the area is Tribal land. In the
may arise in the future. There are no Utah would remain listed as protected NRM wolf occupied habitat, about 1,813
known wolves in Washington at this wildlife under State law. In Utah, mi2 (4,696 km2) (2 percent) is Tribal
time, but a few individuals may wolves fall under three layers of land. Therefore, while Tribal lands can
occasionally disperse into the State from protection: (1) State code, (2) contribute some habitat for wolf packs
nearby populations in Idaho, Montana, Administrative Rule and (3) Species in the NRM, they will be relatively
and Canada. There are no plans to Management Plan. The Utah Code can unimportant to maintaining a recovered
reintroduce wolves to Washington. be found at; http://www.le.state.ut.us/ wolf population in the NRM wolf DPS.
Oregon—The gray wolf has been ∼code/TITLE23/TITLE23.htm. Many wolf packs live in areas of public
classified as endangered under the The relevant administrative rules that land where Tribes have various treaty
Oregon Endangered Species Act (ESA; restrict wolf take can be found at rights, such as wildlife harvest.
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ORS 496.171–192) since 1987. If http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/ Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming propose
federally delisted, wolves in that code/r657/r657–003.htm and http:// to incorporate Tribal harvest into their
portion of the NRM DPS in Oregon www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r657/ assessment of the potential surplus of
would remain listed as endangered r657–011.htm. These regulations restrict wolves available for public harvest in
under State law. There are currently no all potential taking of wolves in Utah, each State, each year, to assure that the
known wolves in Oregon and wolf including that portion in the NRM wolf wolf population is maintained above

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recovery levels. Utilization of those with the Service’s definition of breeding in the portions of those States that are
Tribal treaty rights will not significantly pair. In addition, Wyoming uses the in the tentative NRM wolf DPS. There
impact the wolf population or reduce it State definition of pack in a complicated is no foreseeable condition that would
below recovery levels because a small structure for determining when wolves cause a decline in ungulate populations
portion of the wolf population could be are protected under the regulatory significant enough to affect a recovered
affected by Tribal harvest or lives in mechanisms of the ‘‘trophy game’’ status wolf population.
areas subject to Tribal harvest rights. and the absent management structure
The overall regulatory framework E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors
under the ‘‘predatory animal’’ status.
analyzed depends entirely on State-led Affecting Its Continued Existence
Wyoming’s plan does not provide for
management of wolves that are regulatory control to balance wolf Public Attitudes Toward the Gray
primarily on lands where resident population size and distribution with Wolf—The primary determinant of the
wildlife is traditionally managed livestock conflict and public tolerance. long-term status of gray wolf
primarily by the States. Any wolves that If the wolf were delisted in the NRM populations in the United States will be
may establish themselves on Tribal DPS, the major difference between the human attitudes toward this large
lands will be in addition to those previous Federal management and the predator. These attitudes are largely
managed by the States outside Tribal new State management of problem based on the conflicts between human
reservations. At this point in time only wolves would be with respect to the activities and wolves, concern with the
the Nez Perce Tribe has a wolf taking of wolves in the act of attacking perceived danger the species may pose
management plan that was approved by or molesting livestock or other domestic to humans, its symbolic representation
the Service, but that plan only applied animals on private land by private of wilderness, the economic effect of
to listed wolves, and it was reviewed so landowners or on grazing allotments by livestock losses, the emotions regarding
the Service could determine if the Tribe permittees. the threat to pets, the conviction that the
could take a portion of the Private take of problem wolves under species should never be subject to sport
responsibility for wolf monitoring and State regulations in Montana and Idaho hunting or trapping, and the wolf
management in Idaho under the 1994 would replace some agency control, but traditions of Native American Tribes.
special regulation under section 10(j). we believe this would not dramatically In recent decades, national support
No other Tribe has submitted a wolf increase the overall numbers of problem has been evident for wolf recovery and
management plan. In November 2005, wolves killed each year because of reintroduction in the NRM (Service
the Service requested information from conflicts with livestock. Under 1999). With the continued help of
all the Tribes in the tentative NRM wolf Wyoming State law, the predatory private conservation organizations, the
DPS regarding their Tribal regulations animal status allows all wolves, States and Tribes can continue to foster
and any other relevant information including pups, to be killed by any public support to maintain viable wolf
regarding Tribal management or means, without limit, at any time, for populations in the NRM wolf DPS. We
concerns about wolves. All responses any reason, and regardless of any direct believe that the State management
were reviewed and Tribal comments or potential threat to livestock. Such regulations that will go into effect if
were incorporated into this notice. unregulated take could eliminate wolves wolves in the NRM wolf DPS are
from some otherwise suitable habitat in removed from the ESA’s protections
Summary northwestern Wyoming. will further enhance public support for
Montana and Idaho have proposed to In contrast to the Service recovery wolf recovery. State management
regulate wolf mortality over conflicts program, currently approved State and provides a larger and more effective
with livestock after delisting in a tribal management programs are also to local organization and a more familiar
manner similar to that used by the incorporate regulated public harvest, means for dealing with these conflicts
Service to reduce conflicts with private only when wolf populations in (Bangs et al. 2004, Williams et al. 2002,
property, and that would assure that the Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are Mech 1995). State wildlife organizations
wolf population would be maintained safely above recovery levels of 15 or have specific departments and staff
above recovery levels. These two State more packs, to help manage wolf dedicated to providing accurate and
plans have committed to using a distribution and numbers to minimize science-based public education,
definition of a wolf pack that would conflicts with humans. Wyoming State information, and outreach. Each State
approximate the Service’s current law and management should also meet plan has committed to provide balanced
breeding pair definition. Based on that this requirement. Each of the three core wolf outreach programs.
definition, they have committed to States routinely uses regulated public Genetics—Genetic diversity in the
maintaining at least 10 breeding pairs harvest to help successfully manage and GYA segment of the NRM wolf DPS is
and 100 wolves per State by managing conserve other large predators and wild extremely high. A recent study of wolf
for a safety margin of 15 packs in each ungulates under their authority, and genetics among wolves in northwestern
State. The States are to control problem will use similar programs to manage Montana and the reintroduced
wolves in a manner similar to that used wolf populations safely above recovery populations found that wolves in those
by the Service (1987, 1994, 1999, 2005) levels, when there are more than 15 areas were as genetically diverse as their
and use adaptive management packs in their State. source populations in Canada and that
principles to regulate and balance wolf The States of Montana, Idaho, and inadequate genetic diversity was not a
population size and distribution with Wyoming have managed resident wolf conservation issue in the NRM at
livestock conflict and public tolerance. ungulate populations for decades and this time (Forbes and Boyd 1997).
When wolf populations are above State maintain them at densities that would Because of the long dispersal distances
management objectives for 15 packs, easily support a recovered wolf and the relative speed of natural wolf
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wolf control measures may be more population. They, and Federal land movement between Montana, Idaho,
liberal. When wolf populations are management agencies, will continue to and Wyoming (discussed under Factor
below 15 packs, wolf control as directed manage for high ungulate populations in A), we anticipate that wolves will
by each State will be more conservative. the foreseeable future. Native ungulate continue to maintain high genetic
Current Wyoming law provides a populations also are maintained at high diversity in the NRM wolf DPS.
definition of pack that is not consistent levels by Washington, Oregon, and Utah However, should it become necessary

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sometime in the distant future, all of the habitats assures the Service that threats and results in conservation actions by
three core States’ plans recognized to the wolf population in the NRM wolf Federal, State, and private agencies,
relocation as a potentially valid wildlife DPS have been reduced or eliminated in groups, and individuals. The ESA
management tool. all or a significant portion of its range provides for possible land acquisition
In conclusion, we reviewed other in the foreseeable future. Unsuitable and cooperation with the States and
manmade and natural factors that might habitat and small, fragmented suitable requires that recovery actions be carried
threaten wolf population recovery in the habitat away from these core areas out for all listed species. Most of these
foreseeable future. Public attitudes within the NRM wolf DPS, largely measures have already been
towards wolves have improved greatly represent geographic locations where successfully applied to gray wolves in
over the past 30 years, and we expect wolf packs cannot persist and are not the conterminous 48 States.
that, given adequate continued significant to the species. Disease and We intend to propose rulemaking to
management of conflicts, those attitudes natural predation do not threaten wolf remove the protections of the ESA from
will continue to support wolf population recovery in all or a all or parts of six States, but do not
restoration. The State wildlife agencies significant portion of the species’ range, intend to take action until Wyoming’s
have professional education, nor are they likely to within the law and wolf management plan are
information, and outreach components foreseeable future. Additionally, we modified and can be approved by the
and are to present balanced science- believe that other relevant natural or Service. If Wyoming modified its
based information to the public that will manmade factors (i.e., public attitudes regulatory framework for wolf
continue to foster general public and genetics) are not significant management in a manner that the
support for wolf restoration and the conservation issues that threaten the Service could approve and if the Service
necessity of conflict resolution to wolf population in all or a significant proposed and delisted the NRM wolf in
maintain public tolerance of wolves. portion of its range within the the NRM DPS, the protections of the
Additionally, there are no concerns foreseeable future. ESA would still continue to apply to the
related to wolf genetic viability or Managing take (i.e., overutilization of gray wolves outside the NRM wolf DPS.
interbreeding coefficients that would wolves for commercial, recreational, We do not intend to modify or withdraw
suggest inadequate connectivity among scientific and educational purposes and the existing special regulations or the
the recovery areas that could affect wolf human predation) remains the primary nonessential experimental population
population viability (Vonholdt et al. in challenge to maintaining a recovered designations for the reintroduced gray
prep.) If significant genetic concerns do wolf population in the foreseeable wolf populations in Arizona, New
arise at some point in the future, our future. We have determined that both Mexico, and Texas. Where wolves exist
experience with wolf relocation shows the Montana and Idaho wolf outside the NRM wolf DPS, they would
that the States could effectively remedy management plans are adequate to continue to be considered during
those concerns with occasional wolf regulate human-caused mortality and consultations with other Federal
relocation actions, but it is highly that Montana and Idaho will maintain agencies under section 7 of the ESA.
unlikely such management action their share and distribution of the tri- Should a NRM gray wolf disperse
would ever be required. State wolf population above recovery beyond the boundaries of the NRM DPS,
levels. Wolf management by the tribes it would acquire the status of wolves in
Summary of Our Five-Factor Analysis of
and the States of Washington, Oregon, the area it enters. For example, if wolves
Potential Threats
and Utah will be beneficial, but is not in the NRM DPS were delisted, a wolf
As required by the ESA, we necessary to either achieving or that dispersed from Wyoming into
considered the five potential threat maintaining a recovered wolf Colorado would take on endangered
factors to assess whether wolves are population in the NRM wolf DPS. species status under the ESA.
threatened or endangered throughout all If Wyoming had an approved State This notice does not apply to the
or a significant portion of their range in law and wolf management plan, we listing or protection of the red wolf
the NRM wolf DPS and therefore, believe that regulation by States and (Canis rufus).
whether the NRM wolf DPS should be Tribes of human-caused mortality
listed. In regard to the NRM wolf DPS, Post-Delisting Monitoring
would be adequate to maintain the wolf
a significant portion of the wolf’s range population in the NRM wolf DPS above Section 4(g)(1) of the ESA, added in
is an area that is important or necessary recovery levels in all significant the 1988 reauthorization, requires us to
for maintaining a viable, self-sustaining, portions of its range for the foreseeable implement a system, in cooperation
and evolving representative meta- future. Therefore, on the basis of the with the States, to monitor for not less
population in order for the NRM wolf best scientific and commercial than 5 years, the status of all species
DPS to persist into the foreseeable information available, we believe that that have recovered and been removed
future. While wolves historically the gray wolf in the NRM DPS would no from the Lists of Endangered and
occurred over most of the tentative DPS, longer qualify for protection under the Threatened Wildlife and Plants (50 CFR
large portions of this area are no longer ESA, if Wyoming modified its State wolf 17.11 and 17.12). The purpose of this
able to support viable wolf populations, law and State wolf management plan in post-delisting monitoring (PDM) is to
and the wolf population in the NRM a manner that the Service would verify that a recovered species remains
wolf DPS will remain centered in approve as an adequate regulatory secure from risk of extinction after it no
northwestern Montana, central Idaho, mechanism. longer has the protections of the ESA.
and the GYA. There does not appear to Should relisting be required, we may
be any significant portion of the range, Available Conservation Measures make use of the emergency listing
except portions of Wyoming, where the Conservation measures provided to authorities under section 4(b)(7) of the
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NRM wolf DPS remains threatened or species listed as endangered or ESA to prevent a significant risk to the
endangered. threatened under the ESA include well-being of any recovered species.
The large amount and distribution of recognition, recovery actions, Section 4(g) of the ESA explicitly
suitable habitat in public ownership and requirements for Federal protection, and requires cooperation with the States in
the presence of three large protected prohibitions against certain practices. development and implementation of
core areas that contain highly suitable Recognition through listing encourages PDM programs, but we remain

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Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules 6659

responsible for compliance with section State or Tribal natural resource/land listed under the ESA, we intend to
4(g) and, therefore, must remain actively management agency and ask them to be review the State and any Tribal annual
engaged in all phases of PDM. on the alert for possible wolf activity wolf reports each year. By evaluating
Monitoring Techniques—The NRM during their normal course of field the techniques used, and the results of
area was intensively monitored for activities. Once they locate areas of those wolf monitoring efforts, the
wolves even before wolves were suspected wolf activity, we may ask Service can decide whether further
documented in Montana (Weaver 1978; experienced field biologists to search action, including re-listing is warranted.
Ream and Mattson 1982; Kaminski and the area for wolf signs (tracks, howling, In addition, the States and Tribes are
Hansen 1984). Numerous Federal, State, scats, ungulate kills). Depending on the investigating other, perhaps more
Tribal agencies, universities, and special type of activity confirmed, field crews accurate and less expensive ways to
interest groups assisted in those various may decide to capture, radio-collar, and estimate and describe wolf pack
efforts. Since 1979, wolves have been release wolves on site. Radio-collared distribution and abundance (Service et
monitored using standard techniques wolves are then relocated from the air al. 2005; Sime et al. in prep.; Kunkel et
including collecting, evaluating, and 1 to 4 times per month dependent on a al. in prep.). Data indicate that other
following-up on suspected observations host of factors including funding, survey methods and data can become
of wolves or wolf signs by natural personnel, aircraft availability, weather, the ‘‘biological equivalents’’ of the
resource agencies or the public; howling and other priorities. At the end of the breeding pair definition currently used
or snow tracking surveys conducted by year, we compile agency-confirmed wolf to measure recovery. Montana and
the Service, our university and agency observations to estimate the numbers Idaho have committed to use a
cooperators, volunteers, or interested and locations of adult wolves and pups definition of a wolf pack that
special interest groups; and by that were likely alive on December 31 of approximates the current breeding pair
capturing, radio-collaring and that year. These data are then standard (such as five or six wolves
monitoring wolves. We only consider summarized by packs to indicate overall traveling together in winter). Wyoming
wolves and wolf packs as confirmed population size, composition, and law defines a wolf pack as simply five
when Federal, State, or Tribal agency distribution. This is a very intensive or more wolves traveling together,
verification is made by field staff that level of wildlife population monitoring which could mean only a female and
can reliably identify wolves and wolf compared to nearly all others done in four pups in May and would have no
signs. We provide an annual estimate of North America that we believe results in relationship to a breeding pair. Those
the number of individuals, wolf packs, relatively accurate estimates of wolf State and Tribal investigations also
and breeding pairs of wolves in the population distribution and structure include alternative ways to estimate the
NRM wolf DPS. For example, by the end (Service et al. 2005) in the NRM wolf status of the wolf population and the
of 2004, we estimated there were 835 DPS. This monitoring strategy has been numbers of breeding pairs that are as
wolves in 110 packs and that 66 of those used to estimate the NRM wolf accurate, but less expensive, than those
packs met the criteria for a breeding pair population for over 20 years. that are currently used. The States will
in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming; no Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming as continue to cooperate with National
wolves were known to be present in any well as Oregon and Utah committed to Parks and Tribes and publish their
of the adjacent States (Service et al. continue monitoring of wolf annual wolf population estimates after
2005). populations, according to their State the 5-year mandatory wolf population
The wolf monitoring system works in wolf management plans (See State plans monitoring required by the ESA is over,
a hierarchical nature. Typically we in Factor D), using similar techniques as
but this will not be required by the ESA.
receive a report (either directly or the Service and its cooperators (which
passed along by another agency) that has included the States, Tribes, and We fully recognize and anticipate that
wolves or their signs were observed. We USDA-Wildlife Services—the same State and Tribal laws regarding wolves
make no judgment whether the report agencies that will be managing and and State and Tribal management will
seems credible or not and normally just monitoring wolves post-delisting) have change through time as new knowledge
note the general location of that used. The States have committed to becomes available as the States and
observation. Unless breeding results, continue to conduct wolf population Tribes gain additional experience at
reports of single animals are not monitoring through the mandatory 5- wolf management and conservation. We
important unless tied to other reports or year PDM period that is required by the will base any analysis of whether a
unusual observations that elicit concern ESA. The States also have committed to status review and relisting are
(i.e., a wolf reported feeding on a publish the results of their monitoring warranted upon the best scientific and
livestock carcass). Lone wolves can efforts in annual wolf reports just as has commercial data available regarding
wander long distances over a short been done since 1989 by the Service and wolf distribution and abundance in the
period of time (Mech and Boitani 2003) its cooperators (Service et al. 1989– NRM wolf DPS. For the 5-year PDM
and are almost impossible to find again 2005). Other States and Tribes within period, the best source of that
and confirm. However, the patterns and the DPS adjacent to Montana, Idaho, information will be the State annual
clusters of those individual reports are and Wyoming also have participated in wolf reports. We intend to post those
very informative and critical to this interagency cooperative wolf annual State wolf reports and our
subsequent agency decisions about monitoring system for at least the past annual review and comment on the
where to focus agency searches for wolf decade and their plans commit them to status of the wolf population in the
pack activity. When we receive multiple continue to report wolf activity in their NRM wolf DPS on our Web site by April
reports of multiple individuals that States and coordinate those observations 1 of each year. During our yearly
indicate possible territoriality and pair with other States. analysis for PDM (at least 5 years) of the
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bonding (the early stage of pack Service Review of the Post-Delisting State’s annual reports we also intend to
formation), or a report of multiple Status of the Wolf Population—To comment on any threats that may have
wolves that seems highly credible ascertain wolf population distribution increased during the previous year, such
(usually made by a biologist or and structure and analyze if the wolf as significant changes in a State
experienced outdoors-person), we population might require a status review regulatory framework, diseases,
typically notify the nearest Federal, to determine whether it should again be decreases in prey abundance, increases

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6660 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 26 / Wednesday, February 8, 2006 / Proposed Rules

in wolf-livestock conflict, or other determine after considering public name and return address in your e-mail
factors. comments that the population segment message.
Our analysis and response for PDM is meets the criteria in the DPS Policy, but Our practice is to make comments,
to track changes in wolf abundance and the DPS does not meet the delisting tests including names and home addresses of
distribution and threats to the in the ESA and our regulations. This is respondents, available for public review
population. If the wolf population ever a possible outcome if Wyoming does not during regular business hours.
falls below the minimum NRM wolf adopt a State law and management plan Individual respondents may request that
population recovery level (30 breeding that are sufficient to support delisting. we withhold their home address from
pairs of wolves and 300 wolves in We request public comments on this the rulemaking record, which we will
Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming), we alternative. honor to the extent allowable by law.
could initiate an emergency listing of Idaho and Montana have requested There also may be circumstances in
gray wolves throughout the NRM wolf that we establish a DPS that excludes which we would withhold from the
DPS. If the wolf population segment in Wyoming if Wyoming fails to adopt an record a respondent’s identity, as
Montana, Idaho, or Wyoming fell below appropriate State law and a allowable by law. If you wish us to
10 breeding pairs or 100 wolves in any management plan that would support withhold your name or address, you
one of those States for 2 consecutive delisting. An alternative to this proposal must state this prominently at the
years, we could initiate a status review would be to include Yellowstone beginning of your comment. However,
and analysis of threats to determine if National Park, where exclusive Federal we will not consider anonymous
re-listing was warranted. All such jurisdiction lies and neither State law
reviews would be made available for comments. We will make all
nor exploitation of wildlife would occur submissions from organizations or
public review and comment, including in any event, but to exclude the rest of
peer review by select species experts. If businesses, and from individuals
Wyoming from the DPS. The Idaho and identifying themselves as
either of these two scenarios occurred Montana request is inconsistent with
(1) less than 30 breeding pairs or 300 representatives or officials of
the available science discussed earlier organizations or businesses, available
wolves, or (2) less than 10 breeding in this preamble as it applies to the
pairs or 100 wolves in Montana, Idaho, for public inspection in their entirety.
requirements for establishment of a Comments and other information
or Wyoming for 2 consecutive years DPS. Nevertheless, if anyone now
during the mandatory PDM period), the received, as well as supporting
advocates such an approach, we request information used to write this rule, will
PDM period would be extended 5 that they address both the scientific and
additional years from the point of be available for public inspection, by
legal basis for it in their comments. We appointment, during normal business
violation. would consider these alternative hours at our Helena Office (see
Public Comments Solicited scenarios to the extent Wyoming does ADDRESSES). In making a final decision
We solicit comments or suggestions not act and we find such actions to be on this notice, we will take into
from the public, other concerned legally sufficient. consideration the comments and any
governmental agencies, the scientific The eastern one third of Washington additional information we receive. Such
community, industry, or any other and Oregon, and a small portion of communications may lead to a proposed
interested party concerning this notice. northern Utah are included within the rule that differs from this notice.
Generally, we seek information, data, tentative DPS. We request comments on
whether the DPS should be expanded to References Cited
and comments concerning the
boundaries of the tentative NRM wolf include more or less land within Utah A complete list of all references cited
DPS and the status of gray wolf in the or any other State. Any such comments in this document is available upon
NRM. Specifically, we seek should provide relevant scientific data. request from the Western Gray Wolf
documented, biological data on the We will consider the information so Recovery Coordinator (see ADDRESSES
status of the NRM wolf population and submitted in delineating the boundaries above).
their habitat, and the management of for this DPS.
Submit comments as indicated under Dated: January 31, 2006.
these wolves and their habitat.
We will also consider the possibility ADDRESSES. If you wish to submit H. Dale Hall,
of establishing a Northern Rocky comments by e-mail, please avoid the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Mountain DPS for the gray wolf, but use of special characters and any form [FR Doc. 06–1102 Filed 2–7–06; 8:45 am]
listing the DPS as threatened, if we of encryption. Please also include your BILLING CODE 4310–55–P
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