Montana Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Friday he was upholding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove gray wolves from the federal endangered list in the Northern Rockies and the western Great Lakes.
Wolves would remain a federally protected species in Wyoming because the state’s law and management plans were not strong enough, he said. But management of the predator will be turned over to state agencies in Montana and Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah, in addition to the Great Lakes states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Obama administration had ordered a review of the decision made by the Bush administration shortly before departing. Salazar said he had concluded that dropping the wolf from the list was justified by its strong comeback in the two regions, which together have a population of nearly 5,600 wolves.
“The recovery of the gray wolf throughout significant portions of its historic range is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act,” he said in a conference call from Washington, D.C.
Wolves elsewhere in the Lower 48 states remain on the endangered list.