The head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says his agency will start removing federal protections from gray wolves in Montana and Idaho by January – even if Wyoming hasn’t come up with an acceptable wolf management plan. Wyoming’s lack of such a plan has stalled movement on the issue in the region even though both Idaho and Montana have management plans already in place.
Idaho Gov. Jim Risch, who met with Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall today, said, “We should not be held hostage by another sovereign state who wants to do something different. While I am encouraged by what I heard today, promises have been made in the past that have not been kept.”
Hall told Risch his agency is preparing a two-pronged approach for delisting wolves in Idaho and Montana. One approach includes Wyoming, if their legislature approves a new management plan in their upcoming session, and the other excludes Wyoming if no progress is made, the governor’s office reported. Under the plan, Idaho could manage wolves within its borders in a year. Risch has been pushing the delisting issue since he took office. “Idaho should not be penalized for doing what was required, and I have continually told the federal government that,” he said in a news release today. “We will be able to maintain a viable population of wolves in the state that is in balance with other game populations.”