Michigan United Conservation Clubs today applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the federal endangered species list. They also confirmed that, based on sound-scientific evidence, there is only one species of wolf, Canis lupus, in the region.
The federal delisting rule removing wolves from the endangered species list will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, Dec. 28, and will take effect Friday, Jan. 27, 30 days after its publication.
After meeting the criteria to delist more than a decade ago, conservation advocates finally won the day. Wolves no longer need federal protection. It should be the state’s responsibility and authority to manage wildlife within its boundaries. MUCC worked diligently with the DNR and other groups to establish a collaborative and science-based Wolf Management Plan back in 2008. Once delisting is effective on January 27, 2012, this plan classifies wolves as a “protected species” and allows for flexible management options for the state to control problem wolves. A 2008 state law MUCC pushed for also allows livestock and dog owners the ability to protect their private property from wolf depredation. It’s now time to allow that plan to be put into place.
This should be seen as a conservation success story; if the Endangered Species Act is allowed to work, we can move endangered species on to a path of recovery. Rebounding from a few hundred wolves in Minnesota in the 1970s when listed as endangered, the region’s gray wolf population now numbers more than 4,300 and occupies large portions of Minnesota (2900 wolves), Wisconsin (782), and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (687). The Michigan and Wisconsin combined population alone is more than 14 times the original recovery goal.
However, with all the legal challenges from anti-hunting groups time after time, the process has been slow and very frustrating for sportsmen and women who truly understand the benefits of state management. Wolves have already been federally delisted in 2007 and 2009, but lawsuits have placed them back on the list each time.
Removing wolves from the Endangered Species List and implementing the Wolf Management Plan allows for that management. Science, as always, should be the driving force behind wildlife management issues.
MUCC thanks the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar for keeping to their word, adhering to their timeline, and most of all, for listening to the facts.
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