Gray Wolf still protected in Western South Dakota
Even though the gray wolf has recently been removed from federal Endangered Species Act protections in Minnesota and the other Great Lake states, as well as, Montana, Idaho and under consideration in Wyoming the gray wolf remains protected under federal law in western South Dakota.
The recent de-listing actions have removed Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf in eastern South Dakota but the wolf remains protected in South Dakota west of the Missouri River. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) continues to work on plans that could de-list additional areas in the United States, including western South Dakota,” said Scott Larson with the USFWS.
For areas east of the Missouri River, the gray wolf is now under management authority by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP). “Although the gray wolf has been de-listed by the USFWS in eastern South Dakota, this animal remains protected under South Dakota law,” said SDGFP Wildlife Damage Program Administrator, Keith Fisk. “In western South Dakota, wolves remain protected under federal law.”
“If livestock producers experience depredation from a suspected wolf, they need to contact their local wildlife damage specialist or regional SDGFP office right away,” said Fisk. “If the livestock is determined to have been possibly killed by a wolf, we’ll work directly with USFWS to address the problem in western South Dakota.” For livestock depredation east of the Missouri River, SDGFP would likely remove the wolf.
Over the past few years, South Dakota has had wolves killed on both sides of the Missouri River. However, South Dakota does not have a resident wolf population and the USFWS and SDGFP do not believe there is enough suitable habitat to maintain a population. The wolves that have been killed in South Dakota are likely transient animals that have dispersed from populations in other states. Neither agency (SDGFP or USFWS) has any intentions of establishing wolves in South Dakota.
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