By Wyoma Groenenberg
The Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) release of its proposed rule delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming on Oct. 5 initiated a 100-day public comment period. There will be one public hearing on Nov. 15 in Riverton at the Robert A. Peck Arts Center at Central Wyoming College, 2660 Peck Ave., from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
To give all interested people the opportunity to submit comments on the proposal, there will be an informational meeting from 4:30-6 p.m. at the same location to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions regarding the proposed rule.
An emotional issue, there is little gray area for most Wyoming residents concerning wolves’ presence in the region. They are either strongly for or against protecting the animals. The fate of this plan lies in the hands of the public.
The formal proposal follows an agreement with the State of Wyoming that serves as the blueprint for returning wolf management to state control — announced in principle in July and with more detail in August.
If this proposal is finalized, the gray wolf would be delisted in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act, and future management for this species, except in national parks and national wildlife refuges, would be conducted by the appropriate state or tribal wildlife agencies.
Due to recovery efforts and the provisions of the revised state plan, the Wyoming wolf population is healthy and stable, current and future threats to wolves have been addressed, and a post-delisting monitoring and management framework has been developed.
Comments must be received on or before Jan. 13, 2012. The FWS will post all comments on www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process.
The service is not able to accept email or fax comments. Send comments through U.S. mail or hand deliver to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. [FWS—R6—ES—2011—0039]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, VA 22203.
A peer review panel is scheduled to conduct an assessment of this proposal during the public comment period. Once completed in December, this assessment will be posted online at www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolf/. Additional background information on gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountain region is available on the same site.
All comments and information, including on the assessment, received during the comment period will be considered during the preparation of a final determination. Accordingly, the final decision may differ from this proposal.
For further information, contact U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Region Office, Ecological Services Division, 134 Union Blvd., Lakewood, CO 80228; telephone 303—236—7400. People who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800—877—8339.