Only public information session/hearing in Northeast scheduled for October 20
ORONO, October 14, 2004--The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting public comments on its proposed plan to end wolf recovery efforts in Maine and 20 other states. The public can submit comments in writing any time before November 18 or in person Wednesday, October 20 at a public information session and hearing at the Best Western Black Bear Inn and Conference Center on Godfrey Boulevard in Orono. The public information session is from 6:30-7:30 p.m.; the hearing is from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
If enacted, Fish and Wildlife's plan would remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan--where recovery efforts have yielded healthy wolf populations--but would also eliminate federal protection for wolves in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, states that have yet to re-establish wolf populations but still have 26 million acres of previously occupied wolf habitat.
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must not walk away from wolf recovery in the Northeast," says Jody Jones, Maine Audubon wildlife ecologist. "The agency has an obligation under the Endangered Species Act to restore wolves outside of the Midwest, and must include the forests of the Northeast, which are historic and important habitat for wolves."
Last November Maine Audubon joined a federal lawsuit charging that Fish and Wildlife's decision to abandon wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast violated the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The statewide wildlife conservation organization continues to fight for wolf recovery because without wolves and other "keystone" predators, ecosystems ultimately suffer. "Restoring gray wolves to Maine would not only improve the health of Maine's ecosystems, it also would provide a "source" population for recovery should the Midwest population diminish again," says Jones.
"As more attention is focused on Maine's potential for expanding nature-based tourism, it's interesting to note that public interest in wolves, wolf viewing, and wolf-based education programs has far exceeded expectations in Yellowstone National Park, where the return of wolves is one of the most successful stories in the history of wildlife conservation," adds Kevin Carley, Maine Audubon's executive director.
Comments on Fish and Wildlife's decision to end wolf recovery efforts can be made in person at the October 20 hearing and/or be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org; faxed to(801) 517-1015; or written to Gray Wolf Delist-EDPS, c/o Content Analysis Team, P.O. Box 221150, Salt Lake City, UT 84122-1150.
Comments must be received no later than November 18, 2004, and should include "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," the regulation number "RIN 1018-AJ0" and the subject line "Attn: Gray Wolf Delisting."
For more information on submitting comments, go to www.maineaudubon.org/act/041006_frm.shtml.
MAINE AUDUBON works to conserve Maine's wildlife and wildlife habitat by engaging people of all ages in education, conservation and action.
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