MWC requests U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not approve Maine’s 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan until it includes the Gray Wolf

On January 14, 2016, the Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife submitted its 2015 Revision of the State Wildlife Action Plan to the USFWS for review and approval. The revision contained no mention of the gray wolf. MWC’s written comments to MDIFW received no substantive response. In response, the Maine Wolf Coalition has submitted a formal request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the service not approve Maine’s proposed 2015 Wildlife Action Plan until it includes the gray wolf. MWC also recently asked the MDIFW Commissioner’s Advisory Council to recommend to the department that it revise the proposed plan to include the gray wolf.

In an email to Mark McCollough of the USFWS, John Glowa stated in part, “MDIFW has clearly not made a good faith effort to either assess the status of actual or potential wolf recovery in Maine and surrounding jurisdictions, or to respond to our questions and concerns. Wolves continue to be killed south of the St. Lawrence River. Lynx have now been documented crossing the St. Lawrence River. Wolf populations in southern Ontario are expanding with increased protection, and in southern Quebec with increases in the moose population due to extensive timber harvesting. Maine contains tens of thousands of square miles of potential wolf habitat and is well within dispersal distance of wolves in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.”

In an email to John Glowa dated May 11, 2016, Colleen Sculley of the USFWS stated in part, “Thank you for your request regarding Maine’s Wildlife Action plan. Maine submitted the 2015 Revision of the Maine Wildlife Action Plan (Plan) to the US Fish and Wildlife Service on January 14, 2016. A Regional Review Team, of which I am a member, anticipates reviewing this plan in the last quarter of 2016. The Team will review the plan for the required elements , and make a recommendation to the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for plan approval, conditionally approval or disapproval. The final decision is made by the Director. As part of this process, the Team will examine both the criteria used to designate Species of Greatest Conservation Need and the stakeholder and public review process.” She further stated in part, “…the criteria used to designate Species of Greatest Conservation need within a state…are developed by the state, to address state needs and priorities…. Criteria often used by states include: Federal listing status; State listing status; IUCN G and S ranks; identification as a Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need; and species for which a state bears a large responsibility for the security of the population (endemics).”

In a follow-up email to Ms. Sculley, John Glowa wrote in part, “There are no criteria in Maine used to determine the existence of a species…. If there are no criteria to determine the presence of a species, there can be no criteria to designate it. Until criteria are developed and implemented to determine the status of the gray wolf in Maine…the 2015 MWAP cannot be approved.” He continued, “As the only wolf advocacy organization in Maine, (MWC) was excluded from stakeholder meetings. MWC’s written comments were not only ignored, they were not even addressed. Because the stakeholder and the public review process were both inadequate, the 2015 MWAP cannot be approved.” He further stated, “The gray wolf is a federally listed species. The Eastern Wolf is nearly extinct. If there ever was a Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the wolf in the northeast is it.”

The Commissioner’s Advisory Council has taken no action with regard to our request other than to forward information we submitted to them to MDIFW Commissioner Woodcock for another department response. The first one contained no substantive information.

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