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E-M:/ Wolf status downgraded



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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The below release followed the release today by US Fish and Wildlife Service
that wolves have been downgraded from Endangered to Threatened in this
region, including Michigan.  Following this release is the USFWS release.
AW


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 18, 2003

Contact: 	Lisa Osborn, Defenders of Wildlife – 802-496-9549
		Bart Semcer, Sierra Club – 202-675-6696

Wolf Coalition Stunned By US Fish and Wildlife Agency’s Controversial
Decision To Abandon Northeast Wolf Restoration

WAITSFIELD, Vt. – Conservationists expressed strong disappointment that the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today rescinded proposed gray wolf recovery
efforts for the Northeast.  A coalition of more than thirty national,
regional and local organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, the
Sierra Club, the Wildlands Project, and RESTORE: The North Woods, called on
the agency to keep its promise to implement the Endangered Species Act and
recover a healthy wolf population in the Northeast.

“By abandoning the opportunity to return the wolf to the Northeast, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service is completely ignoring science, the Endangered
Species Act and public opinion,” said Lisa Osborn of Defenders of Wildlife.

The final rule on gray wolf reclassification under the Endangered Species
Act downlists the species from Endangered to Threatened and keeps the
Northeast region administratively lumped together with wolf recovery areas
in the Great Lakes region.

“The bottom line is that wolves in the Great Lakes region do not prey on
deer and moose in northern New England," said Paula MacKay of the Wildlands
Project.  "Wolf recovery requires a long-term commitment to restoring
ecologically significant wolf populations across their native
range—including the northeastern U.S.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is
allowing politics to undermine its legal obligation to restore this
species."

During the public comment period on the proposed reclassification, the
agency received thousands of comments – the vast majority of which strongly
supported a plan to restore gray wolves to suitable habitat in the Northeast

“The public made it very clear it wants wolf recovery efforts in the
Northeast.  The law requires that wolves be restored to the region. The Bush
Administration should keep the promise of the Endangered Species Act and
work to return the wolf to the northeastern states,” said the Sierra Club’s
Bart Semcer.

The eastern wolf once lived throughout the Northeast but became extinct in
this region by the late 1800s due to bounty hunting and habitat destruction.
Although wolves are making a comeback across a few areas of the U.S., they
remain notably absent from the northeastern landscape. Scientific studies
have shown that the North Woods of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and
Vermont could support nearly 2,000 wolves.

"It is clear that vast majority of people want wolves back," said Kristin
DeBoer of RESTORE: The North Woods. "This decision is an offense to citizens
everywhere who believe it is important to restore the balance of nature."

For more information, contact: The Coalition to Restore the Eastern Wolf
(CREW), PO Box 281, Waitsfield, Vermont 05673. 802-496-9549 or
crew@madriver.com.

CREW consists of the following organizations:
Adirondack Council
American Lands Alliance
Biodiversity Legal Foundation
C.L.A.N.: Wolf Defenders
Defenders of Wildlife
Earth Justice
Earth Roots
Environmental Advocates
Forest Ecology Network
Forest Watch
Humane Society of the United States
Institute for Environmental Learning
Keeping Track
Loki Clan Wolf Refuge
Maine Audubon
Maine Wolf Coalition
Massabesic Audubon Center
Mission: Wolf
National Wildlife Federation
Native Forest Network
New Hampshire Audubon Society
New Hampshire Wolf Alliance
New York Wolf Conservation Center
Northeast Ecological Recovery Society
North American Wolf Foundation
Northern Forest Forum
Predator Conservation Alliance
Resident’s Committee to Protect the Adirondacks
RESTORE: The North Woods
The Sierra Club
Sinapu
Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project
The Wildlands League
The Wildlands Project
Wild Dog Foundation
Wild Sentry


***********************
>From Fish and Wildlife Service:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2003
Contact:

Ron Refsnider 612-713-5346

Chris Tollefson 202-219-8104

Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x203

EA03-24

Gray Wolves Move Toward Recovery; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Reclassifies Some Wolves from Endangered to Threatened

A steadily growing gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes states
and a highly successful reintroduction program in the northern Rocky
Mountains have prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to change the
status of gray wolves in these areas from "endangered" to the less serious
"threatened" designation under the Endangered Species Act.

The reclassification rule, which finalizes an action first proposed by the
Service in 2000, also establishes three "Distinct Population Segments" (DPS)
for gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act. The three DPSs encompass
the entire historic range of the gray wolf in the lower 48 states and
Mexico, and correspond to the three areas of the country where there are
wolf populations and ongoing recovery activities.

"Wolves are coming back, and their new status highlights our progress toward
recovering them across their range," said Service Director Steve Williams.
"Our action today gives us greater management flexibility for most gray wolf
populations as we work toward the next step - removing gray wolf populations
from the list of endangered and threatened species."

Wolf populations in the Eastern and Western DPSs have achieved population
goals for recovery, and Advance Notices of Proposed Rulemaking are being
published concurrent with this reclassification rule to give the public
notice that the Service will soon begin work to propose delisting these
populations.

Under the Endangered Species Act, endangered species are those that are
currently in danger of extinction. Threatened species, which receive many of
the same protections under the Act, are species that are considered likely
to become endangered in the foreseeable future. "Threatened" is a more
appropriate classification than "endangered" for wolves outside the
Southwest because recovery programs have succeeded in reducing threats to
gray wolves and vastly increasing their numbers and range.

The threatened designation - which now applies to all gray wolves in the
lower 48 states except for those in the Southwest - is accompanied by
special rules to allow some take of wolves outside the experimental
population areas in the northern Rocky Mountains. Under the Endangered
Species Act, these rules provide options for removing wolves that cause
problems for livestock owners and other people affected by wolf populations.
Such rules are possible for threatened species but not for those designated
as endangered. Wolves in experimental population areas in the northern Rocky
Mountains are already covered by similar rules that remain in effect.

The Service will now begin the process of proposing to remove gray wolves in
the western and eastern United States from the endangered and threatened
species list, once the agency has determined that all recovery criteria for
wolf populations in those areas have been met and sufficient protections
remain in place to ensure sustainable populations.

Gray wolf numbers in the western Great Lakes -- estimated at more than 2,445
in Minnesota, 323 in Wisconsin and 278 in Michigan -- have climbed beyond
recovery goals for wolves in the eastern United States. In the Rocky
Mountains, there are an estimated 664 wolves in 44 packs in northwestern
Montana, Idaho, and in and around Yellowstone National Park. This is the
third year the population has been at or above 30 breeding pairs, meeting
the recovery goals for number and distribution in the west.

"Only a few decades ago, wolves were well on their way to extinction in the
lower 48 states," Williams said. "Today, Americans can hear wolves howl in
Yellowstone National Park or see their tracks in the snow in Michigan and
Wisconsin. These sights and sounds are ours to experience because wolf
recovery is being achieved in tandem with measures that help people co-exist
with wolves. Giving stakeholders a voice in how we recover wolves has been
the key to the remarkable progress of this species."

To delist the wolf, various recovery criteria must be met, in addition to
reaching population goals. Among those criteria are requirements to ensure
continued survival of the gray wolf after delisting. This will be
accomplished through management plans developed by the states and tribes.
Once delisted, the species will no longer be protected by the Endangered
Species Act. At that point, individual states and tribes will resume
management of gray wolf populations, although the Service will conduct
monitoring for five years after delisting to ensure that populations remain
secure.

In addition to reclassifying gray wolves in most states from endangered to
threatened, the final rule establishes three Distinct Population Segments
for wolves. The Eastern Distinct Population Segment includes all Midwestern
and Northeastern states, and the wolf populations in Minnesota, Wisconsin,
and Michigan. The new rule did not change the status of wolves in Minnesota,
where they were already listed as threatened.

The Western Distinct Population Segment includes all of Montana, Wyoming,
and Idaho, along with Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, northern
Colorado, and northern Utah.

The Southwestern Distinct Population Segment includes all of Arizona and New
Mexico, southern Colorado and southern Utah, portions of western Texas and
western Oklahoma, and Mexico. This DPS will retain the status of endangered;
the nonessential experimental population designation in Arizona, New Mexico,
and a small portion of Texas remains unchanged. This new rule does not
affect the status or management of gray wolves in the Southwest.

The rule finalizing the reclassification of most gray wolves differs in
several ways from the original proposal. Rather than delisting the gray wolf
in all or parts of 30 states, as proposed, the final rule delists the gray
wolf in all or parts of 16 states in the Southeast because that area is
outside the historical range of the species. Also, the final rule combines
proposed Distinct Population Segments in the western Great Lakes and the
Northeast into one Eastern Distinct Population Segment.

Gray wolves once ranged throughout much of the North American continent and
occupied most of the lower 48 states, except for some southeastern and
mid-Atlantic states. Wolf populations in the United States began to decline
as European settlers moved west. Some wolves were killed for their fur, but
government predator-control efforts helped wipe out wolves in much of their
historical range. By the 1920s, they were virtually gone from the lower 48
states except for a small population in Minnesota.

Intensive efforts to recover wolf populations began once wolves received
protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Once they were
protected from killing, wolf populations in the western Great Lakes states
began to rebound by the mid-1980s. In the northern Rocky Mountains, wolves
naturally dispersing from Canada began recolonizing areas in Montana by the
1980s, and Canadian wolves were captured and released in central Idaho and
Yellowstone National Park in the mid-1990s.

In the Southwest, 74 wolves have been released into the wild in New Mexico
and Arizona since gray wolf reintroduction in the Southwest began in January
1998. Of these, at least 21 remain free-ranging. Second generation wild-born
gray wolf pups were produced for the first time in the Southwest in 2002.

Wolves are numerous in Alaska, where they were never listed as endangered or
threatened.

The final rule reclassifying the gray wolf will be published in the Federal
Register.

For more information on the gray wolf, visit the Service's wolf website at
http://midwest.fws.gov/wolf To receive free updates on gray wolves, contact
the Service at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gray Wolf Review, 1 Federal
Drive, Fort Snelling, MN 55111-4056; send an e-mail to graywolfmail@fws.gov
or call the Gray Wolf Line at 612-713-7337.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System,
which encompasses 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands
and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish
hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field
stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds
of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to
state fish and wildlife agencies.

-FWS-




<<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->><<-->>
Anne Woiwode, Staff Director, Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River Avenue, Lansing, Michigan 48906
517-484-2372; fax 517-484-3108  anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
visit the Mackinac Chapter on the web at http://michigan.sierraclub.org

Learn the rules so that you know how to break them properly



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