Governor Marc Racicot has appointed 12 individuals to serve on a citizen advisory council to help Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks develop a wolf management plan in anticipation of the endangered species' eventual delisting under the federal Endangered Species Act.
An estimated 25 breeding wolf packs exist in the Montana, Idaho and Wyoming recovery areas. A federal plan currently calls for establishing 10 packs in each of the three areas for three years before delisting can occur. Federal wolf managers, however, say the plan could be amended so that a total of 30 packs in the tri-state area could trigger delisting, a process that could begin in about three years. Once delisted the wolves would come under state management.
"We need to prepare now to answer the questions that will emerge as we move toward developing a balanced wolf management plan for Montana," said Patrick J. Graham, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "How will wolves be managed? What areas will they be permitted to inhabit? Who will fund wolf management in Montana? The citizen panel will advise on these issues and assist FWP as it drafts a plan for the governor's approval and eventual approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."
The Wolf Plan Advisory Council members are:
The council will meet in Helena, June 13-14. On June 13 the council will meet from 7-9 p.m. at FWP Headquarters, 1420 E. Sixth Ave. On June 14 the council's business meeting will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Board of Investments, 3rd Floor, 2410 Colonial Dr.
Graham said Gov. Racicot has appointed a diverse group of citizens who have shown that they can work toward solving problems. "For this plan to be accepted by Montanans and others across the nation, we must consider the needs of the wolf, its prey, and the people who live and work on the land," Graham said.