The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that the gray wolf would be removed from the Endangered Species list,
essentially making them fair game – literally. .
The planned delisting of Wyoming's estimated 350 wolves caps a steady progression of diminishing federal safeguards for a predator once hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction
throughout most of the continental United States.
Wyoming will officially regain control over the management of its wolf population on September 30, joining Montana and Idaho, where more than 1,500 wolves were removed from the federal endangered list in May of 2011.
About 4,000 wolves in the northern Great Lakes region – primarily Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota – j lost their status as endangered or threatened last January.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe hailed delisting of the last wolf population in the northern Rockies as a victory assured by the Endangered Species Act and cooperation among state and federal partners.
"The return of the wolf to the Northern Rocky Mountains is a major success story," he said in a statement.
Conservationists decried the move, saying that they fear ending federal safeguards could push wolves back to the brink.
Like Idaho and Montana, Wyoming is required to maintain a statewide population of at least 150 wolves, including 15 breeding pairs, to prevent a relisting.
Wyoming wolves will remain off-limits to hunters inside national wildlife refuges and national parks, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, as well as on the Wind River Indian Reservation.