Gray Wolf Population in Northern Rockies Declined in 2010

Mar 13th, 2011 | By | Category: Green Living

The gray wolf population in the northern Rockies declined from an estimated to 1,733 to 1,651 in 2010, while the number of breeding pairs fell from 115 to 111, according to a US Fish & Wildlife Service report released Friday. The main causes of the decline were federal trapping and aerial gunning, which killed 260 wolves over the course of the year.

G138 Gray Wolf Gray Wolf Population in Northern Rockies Declined in 2010

Photo by Daniel Mott

The report covered Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. A 19 percent decline in wolf numbers in Idaho, from 870 to 705 animals, offset slight population growth in Montana (from 524 to 566) and Wyoming (from 320 to 343). Washington and Oregon counted 37 wolves, including three breeding pairs, up from 19 wolves the year before.

The report comes as Congress is considering bills to remove wolves from the endangered species list. After wolves were previously removed from the list in Idaho, licensed hunters killed 48 before a US District Judge restored them to the endangered species list, in a case filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and allied conservation organizations.

Wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains would be permanently removed from the endangered species list by a rider attached to both the US House of Representatives and Senate versions of the continuing resolution spending bill. Passage of this bill would make wolves the first species to be removed from endangered status based on political considerations rather than the scientific criteria prescribed by the Endangered Species Act.

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