August 18, 2019

Reinstatement of Removal of Federal Protections for Gray Wolves in Wyoming

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are issuing 
this final rule to comply with a court order that reinstates the 
removal of Federal protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) in 
Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Pursuant 
to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Circuit order dated March 3, 2017, and mandate dated April 25, 2017, 
this rule again removes gray wolves in Wyoming from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

DATES: This action is effective May 1, 2017. The United States Court of 
Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit order dated March 3, 2017, 
and mandate dated April 25, 2017, removing Federal protections for the 
gray wolf in Wyoming had legal effect immediately upon filing of the 
mandate.

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available electronically at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R6-ES-2017-0025. It will also be 
available for inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours 
at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mountain-Prairie Regional Office, 
Ecological Services Division, 134 Union Blvd., Lakewood, CO 80228; 
telephone (303) 236-7400. Persons who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For information on wolves in Wyoming, 
contact Tyler Abbott, Wyoming Field Office Supervisor, U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service, 5353 Yellowstone Rd., Suite 308A, Cheyenne, WY 82009; 
telephone (307) 772-2374. Individuals who are hearing impaired or 
speech impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8337 for 
TTY assistance.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List), 
which is authorized by the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended 
(ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), is located in title 50 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations in part 17 (50 CFR 17.11(h)). On September 10, 
2012, we published a final rule to remove the gray wolf in Wyoming from 
the List and remove this population's status as a nonessential 
experimental population under the ESA (77 FR 55530; ``2012 final 
rule''). Additional background information on the gray wolf in Wyoming 
and on this decision, including previous Federal actions, can be found 
in our 2012 final rule at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-
R6-ES-2011-0039, or at https://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/es/grayWolf.php.
    Various groups filed lawsuits challenging our 2012 final rule. On 
September 23, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of 
Columbia vacated and set aside our 2012 final rule (Defenders of 
Wildlife v. Jewell, 68 F. Supp. 3d 193 (D.D.C. 2014)) and reinstated 
our April 2, 2009 (74 FR 15123), final rule that protected gray wolves 
in Wyoming as a nonessential experimental population under the ESA. On 
December 1, 2014, the United States appealed the District Court's 
decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia 
Circuit. Pending the appeal, and consistent with the District Court's 
September 23, 2014, order, we published a final rule reinstating the 
April 2, 2009, final rule protecting the gray wolf in Wyoming (80 FR 
9218, February 20, 2015).
    On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals, in a unanimous 
opinion, reversed the ruling of the U.S. District Court Defenders of 
Wildlife v. Zinke, No. 14-5300 (D.C. Cir. March 3, 2017). On April 25, 
2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued its mandate consistent with its 
March 3, 2017, opinion reversing the U.S. District Court's vacatur of 
our 2012 final rule for gray wolves in Wyoming. The issuance of the 
mandate makes the delisting go into effect. To the extent that a 
regulatory change is required to effectuate the delisting, we are doing 
so now. Therefore, this rule amends the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife by removing gray wolves in Wyoming.

Administrative Procedure

    This rulemaking is necessary to comply with the March 3, 2017, 
court order and April 25, 2017, mandate. Therefore, under these 
circumstances, the Director has determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(3)(B), that prior notice and opportunity for public comment are 
impractical and unnecessary. The Director has further determined, 
pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), that the court order and mandate 
constitute good cause to make this rule effective upon publication.

Effects of the Rule

    Per the March 3, 2017, court order and April 25, 2017, mandate, the 
protections of the ESA are removed for gray wolves in Wyoming. 
Additionally, the regulations under section 10(j) of the ESA at 50 CFR 
17.84(i) and (n) designating Wyoming as a nonessential experimental 
population area are also removed.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Regulation Promulgation

    To comply with the court order and mandate discussed above, we 
amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the CFR, as set 
forth below:

PART 17--ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

0
1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, 
unless otherwise noted.


Sec.  17.11   [Amended]

0
2. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) by removing the entry for ``Wolf, gray 
[Northern Rocky Mountain DPS]'' under MAMMALS from the List of 
Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

[[Page 20285]]

Sec.  17.84   [Amended]

0
3. Amend Sec.  17.84 by removing and reserving paragraphs (i) and (n).

    Dated: March 28, 2017.
James K. Kurth,
Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-08720 Filed 4-28-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
Share