By: Compiled by Brad Dokken, Grand Forks Herald
BISMARCK — The recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the Great Lakes population of gray wolves from federal protection creates two sets of regulations in North Dakota.
According to Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the delisting only includes the portion of North Dakota east of U.S. Highway 83 and the Missouri River. That means the state manages wolves in eastern North Dakota, while wolves west of Highway 83 remain under federal protection because they fall in a gray area between the Great Lakes and Rocky Mountain wolf populations.
Tucker said there are no plans to offer a wolf season because sightings are rare, and the state doesn’t support a wolf population.
“The upside is that under state management, we now have the flexibility to deal with any issues that may arise with the occasional transient animals moving through North Dakota,” Tucker said.
North Dakota law allows landowners to protect their property from depredation by a state-managed furbearer. That means landowners in eastern North Dakota could shoot a wolf posing a threat to livestock. West of Highway 83 and the Missouri River, wolves remain an endangered species under stricter federal protection. Subsequently, landowners in that part of the state first must contact proper federal authorities before taking action on their own.
“Our hope is that in the near future, additional delisting action by the Fish and Wildlife Service will address western North Dakota,” Tucker said. “Then the confusion over split management status in our state will be eliminated.”
— Herald staff report
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