The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has reached an agreement with the majority of plaintiffs, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and eight other conservation organizations, to settle ongoing litigation over a Federal District Court's 2010 decision to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains. If approved by the court, the settlement offers a path for the service to return management of the recovered wolf populations in Idaho and Montana to the states.
Under the terms of the settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to address the delisting of wolves in the region in the future as a distinct population segment, rather than on a state-by-state basis. The parties are requesting that the court allow the 2009 delisting to be reinstated in Montana and Idaho on an interim basis, in accordance with approved state management plans, until a full delisting can be completed for the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population.
Separate negotiations are ongoing between the service and the state of Wyoming. If a mutually acceptable management plan for wolves in Wyoming can be developed, then the service will be able to proceed with delisting proceedings addressing wolves throughout the northern Rocky Mountains. The delisting does not extend to the small wolf populations in eastern Oregon and Washington, or to Utah, where there are not believed to be any resident wolves.