Thank you for contacting me about the status of gray wolves in the Rocky Mountains. I appreciate hearing from you about this important issue.
As you know, the gray wolf was among the first animals protected under the Endangered Species Preservation Act (ESA; a predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act). In 1978, the animal was listed as endangered in all of the lower 48 states except Minnesota.
In April 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) removed Endangered Species Act protections for the Western Great Lakes population and the Northern Rocky Mountain population of gray wolves (except for Wyoming). The agency cited strong successes in population recovery efforts. On August 5, 2010, the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana, issued an order that vacated the Northern Rocky Mountain delisting, which means that most of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolves are treated as threatened species.
In March 2011, the USFWS and several environmental groups reached a settlement that would conditionally delist gray wolves from the ESA in Montana and Idaho while leaving protections intact for the rest of the Rocky Mountain gray wolf population. This settlement must be approved by the U.S. Federal District Court in Missoula, Montana. For more information, please visit http://www.doi.gov.
Recovery programs vary based on geographic area, and it is critical that the USFWS continues to make scientific evaluations of wolf populations as hunting, human encroachment and other factors change. I am encouraged by the success of some of the gray wolf recovery efforts, but I continue to have concerns about the wolves’ ability to maintain healthy population levels. This remains an important issue and I will monitor it carefully. As a native Westerner, I am passionate about preserving our natural environment and the wildlife that inhabits the land.
I will continue to listen closely to what you and other Coloradans have to say about matters before Congress, the concerns of our communities, and the issues facing Colorado and the nation. My job is not about merely supporting or opposing legislation; it is also about bridging the divide that has paralyzed our nation’s politics. For more information about my positions and to learn how my office can assist you, please visit my website at http://www.markudall.senate.gov.
U.S. Senator, Colorado