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FWP weighs in on proposal to end federal protections for gray wolves

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jun 07 2013 06:30:15 PM MDT
Updated On: Jun 07 2013 09:36:06 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has managed gray wolves since they were delisted in May of 2011. Leaders with FWP tell me they're not surprised to learn of a proposition to end federal protections for wolves and say they're optimistic about state management.

"I think states are equipped to manage the species and conserve wolves," says FWP Region Three Supervisor Pat Flowers.

NBC Montana caught up with Flowers to find out what folks with FWP have learned from their years of management.

He tells us delisting is important to demonstrate the integrity of the endangered species Act. Flowers says there's a greater feeling of ownership when states are in charge, yet, there are also quite a few challenges that come along with that responsibility.

"The biggest challenge is trying to find the right management tool to get the numbers we want," explains Flowers.

Flowers tells us the tool they've found is hunting but they're still figuring out how to effectively structure the season while conserving wolves.

"How do we combine that with response to depredation as another means to manage the species on a landscape where there are other uses and to manage it in a way that's complimentary to existing land uses," says Flowers.

So what do other states have to look forward to when it comes to managing wolves? "Expect that kind of passion. You have to find a path that probably won't satisfy both sides, but it's considerate of both perspectives," says Flowers.

While Flowers says it's still a challenge, he adds they're working through it.

Some scientists and environmental groups say now is not the time to delist gray wolves.

They argue wolves must remain on the list to ensure they can return to parts of their historic range in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, southern Rockies of Colorado and Utah.