The U.S. Interior Department today officially removed Montana wolves from the Endangered Species List, a move required by Senator Jon Tester’s recent law to return wolf management to the State of Montana.

“Today we’re restoring a responsible, science-based plan for the future of Montana’s wolves that works best for our state, for our livestock, for our wildlife and for the jobs they sustain,” said the Senator. “Our wolves have recovered, and now state biologists need to manage them like any other recovered species.”

At least 1,650 wolves live between six states in the Northern Rockies, the majority in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Tester and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) included the provision in the 2011 federal funding bill, which overwhelmingly passed in Congress last month. The provision restores a 2009 rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that delisted Montana’s and Idaho’s wolves. Tester had worked closely with Senator Max Baucus and other lawmakers on plans for delisting wolves following a controversial court decision last August that returned wolves to the Endangered Species Act and nullified Montana’s wolf management plan.

Mike Clark, Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, said this in response to today’s news:

“Wolves are doing well in the region, and it is time to let the states show they can manage wolves responsibly.”

State officials have proposed a limit of 220 gray wolves to be shot during Montana’s wolf hunting season this fall. Montana’s FWP Commission plans to discuss the proposed hunting wolf season May 12 in Helena and should make a final decision July 14. Public comments will be accepted through June 20.