U.S. Fish and Wildlife seeks feedback on environmental impact of gray wolf reintroduction | CraigDailyPress.com

U.S. Fish and Wildlife seeks feedback on environmental impact of gray wolf reintroduction

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host a public meeting in Craig on Aug. 4, to collect feedback from local stakeholders on an Environmental Impact Statement. 

To assist the reintroduction of gray wolves in Colorado, Fish and Wildlife is initiating a process to develop an experimental population rule to provide the authority and flexibility needed to manage the reintroduced wolves under the Endangered Species Act.

While evaluating the state’s request to provide management of reintroduced wolves as an experimental population under the ESA, Fish and Wildlife must complete an environmental review of the potential impacts through the development of an Environmental Impact Statement. 

As a first step in the process, Fish and Wildlife issued a press release inviting the public to provide feedback for the EIS. 

As a result of the statewide voter-led initiative passed in November 2020, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is responsible for reintroducing the gray wolf in a portion of the species’ historical range in Colorado no later than December 31, 2023. 

Since the gray wolf was relisted as an endangered species in February 2022, CPW has requested the designation of an experimental population under the ESA to provide increased management flexibility. 

Fish and Wildlife uses a range of partnerships and conservation tools to recover endangered and threatened species. Section 10(j) of the ESA allows Fish and Wildlife to designate a population of a listed species as experimental if it will be released into habitat outside of the species’ current range. 

A 10(j) rule would likely help CPW to manage the potential impacts of gray wolf reintroduction to stakeholders while ensuring the reintroduction and management of wolves is likely to be successful and contribute to conservation of the species. 

The EIS will consider the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the potential experimental population rule and associated management flexibility. Fish and Wildlife is opening a 30-day public comment period, beginning on July 31, 2022, for input about the scope of the EIS. 

Comments can be submitted online through http://www.regulations.gov. Fish and Wildlife will also be hosting the following public meetings for the public to provide comments: 

  • Today –  6 p.m. to 8 p.m. — Silverthorne Pavilion, Silverthorne, CO
  • Thursday –6 p.m. to 8 p.m. —  Moffat County High School, Craig, CO
  • Aug. 10 –6 p.m. to 8 p.m. —  Virtual meeting | Register online
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