President George W. Bush first proposed delisting all gray wolves in the northern Rockies in January 2007, but a federal court in Montana suspended the rule last summer, ruling that the states had failed to demonstrate that they would maintain a sufficient number of wolves once the federal protections were lifted. Bush issued a second delisting rule on Jan. 14, and the Obama administration suspended it upon taking office.
Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery coordinator for the northwestern United States, said gray wolves will be able to withstand regulated hunting in Idaho and Montana because the states have pledged to maintain at least 500 and 400 wolves, respectively, in the short term, and the animals will be able to migrate and interbreed with thousands of gray wolves in Canada.
"Right now the wolf population is highly diverse. We've done as much as we can," Bangs said. "The science is absolutely rock-solid."