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Conservation groups intend to sue over federal decision on Rocky Mountain gray wolves

A gray wolf walks by some trees in the snow.
Matt McCollum
Flickr Creative Commons
Gray wolves are listed as federally endangered in much of the country, but are under state control in parts of the Mountain West.

Ten conservation groups plan to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision not to list gray wolves in more parts of the west under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency announced last week that gray wolves in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming would not be listed as endangered. This was in response to a petition seeking to protect the mammal in all of the Northern Rocky mountains and western US.

In its decision, the agency says that after reviewing data from sources including state, federal, and tribal, it found that the species is not at risk of extinction.

KC York is with Trap Free Montana, one of the conservation groups. She says the service relied on inaccurate population estimates for wolves in Montana.

“The science shows that the population counts are not accurate, that they’re flawed; they’re using these flawed models,” she said.

York also expressed concern over declining genetic diversity among Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves.

While gray wolves will not be listed in more Western states, The US Fish and Wildlife Service says by December 2025 it plans on developing the nation's first ever gray wolf recovery plan.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.
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