Keeping the wolf at bay


As U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists ship more gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, the agency is considering how it can get out of the wolf reintroduction business. An agency draft proposal says the wolf could be considered recovered throughout the West once 10 breeding pairs have been established for three years in the three original recovery sites - Montana, central Idaho and Wyoming. This would allow the agency to remove the wolf from the endangered species list and end its obligation to reintroduce wolves in other states. "(The agency) can't just go on forever protecting and adding wolves wherever anyone wants them. We have to draw the line somewhere," says Steve Fritts, wolf recovery scientist in Helena, Mont. He says that many rural communities don't want to reintroduce wolves; instead, they want the power to control wolves that migrate into their area. The proposed policy alarms Michael Robinson, director of the nonprofit organization Sinapu in Colorado. He wants the agency to restore wolves to Colorado's Western Slope and says the agency's proposal would keep wolves out of most of their former range. If wolves wander into Colorado without federal protection, he says, an archaic Colorado law would allow wolf killers to collect a $2 bounty.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has not yet released its draft for public comment, but Sinapu has a copy. It can be reached at P.O. Box 3243, Boulder, CO 80307 (303/447-8655).

*Jenny Emery