WASHINGTON – The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed removing the gray wolf from the list of threatened and endangered species after the agency confirmed gray wolf populations have successfully recovered. The gray wolf was listed under the Endangered Species Act more than 30 years ago.

State wildlife management agencies would resume responsibility for management and protection of gray wolves in states where the wolves live. The agency also proposed maintaining protection and expanding recovery efforts for the Mexican wolf in the Southwest.

“From the moment a species requires the protection of the Endangered Species Act, our goal is to work with our partners to address the threats it faces and ensure its recovery,” said Dan Ashe, Service director. “An exhaustive review of the latest scientific and taxonomic information shows that we have accomplished that goal with the gray wolf, allowing us to focus our work under the ESA on recovery of the Mexican wolf subspecies in the Southwest.”

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) expressed support for the proposal, although the livestock groups said that Mexican wolves in the Southwest should also be delisted. Scott George, NCBA president, said that wolves pose a serious threat to wildlife, humans and private property, especially livestock.

“It’s time to turn management over to the states,” George said. “Wolf depredation of livestock is increasing to untenable levels in areas where wolves are still protected. We were given relief in Wyoming when it was finally delisted here. It’s only fair to allow all producers across the country that same relief.”

George added that the Mexican wolf listing is unwarranted.

"Wolf depredation threatens ranchers’ livelihoods and rural communities, as well as the economies relying on a profitable agricultural industry,” he said.

The Service will open a 90-day comment period on both proposals seeking additional scientific, commercial and technical information from the public and other interested parties. The comment period will begin after the proposed rule is published in theFederal Register.