Court gives wolf control back to feds
Duluth News Tribune - 09/29/2008
Management of timber wolves in the Great Lakes region has been handed back to the federal government under a federal court decision released today in Washington.
The ruling means that killing a wolf for nearly any reason in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin immediately becomes illegal under federal law once again. The states had set up exceptions allowing some wolf killing by landowners, farmers and others.
Environmental and animal rights groups that had opposed taking wolves off the endangered species list claimed victory on Monday.
The decision by Judge Paul Friedman ruled that the federal government’s effort to remove only Great Lakes region wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act, as a distinct population segment, was not supported by biology or law.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved in 2006 to remove wolves from the endangered species list and give control to state Departments of Natural Resources in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The agency concluded that wolves had recovered from near-extinction in the 1960s and 1970s and had met the goals to restore their population in the region.
For the past two years, wolves have been under state management in those states. In addition to government trapping, all three states had allowed slightly more liberal wolf killing by livestock farmers, pet owners and landowners. Wisconsin officials also were mulling a wolf hunt at some point, while Minnesota had put that issue off until at least 2011.
But all those state plans now are on hold.
Filing suit against the de-listing effort were the Humane Society of the United States, Help Our Wolves Live, Born Free USA and Friends of Animals and Their Environment, who said wolves should be handled as a contiguous population. They argued that, because wolves still haven’t been restored to most of their historic range, the animal should keep its federal protection.
The groups oppose efforts by some states to move toward hunting and trapping seasons.
“Even across the three Great Lakes states, wolves aren’t recovered in all areas. And then there are all the other states that had wolf populations but no longer do,’’ Brian O’Neill, lead attorney for the Twin Cities-based Faegre & Benson law firm that handled the case for the groups, told the News Tribune. “If you ask me, 4,000 wolves are not that many across such a large area. ... And we see all three states with (wolf management plans) that could essentially cut the number of wolves in half. That’s not an acceptable situation.’’
Minnesota has about 3,000 wolves while Wisconsin and Michigan each have about 500 or more. But Minnesota’s wolf population has stopped growing and has even shrunk in recent years, a state survey found last winter, and has not grown in geographic area over the past decade as some wolf experts had predicted.
In July, a federal judge in Montana overturned a similar decision stripping wolves of all federal protection in the Rocky Mountain region, thus preventing Idaho, Montana and Wyoming from implementing wolf hunts as well.
Great Lakes wolves to be off endangered list by year's end
Article by: JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY , Star Tribune 12/21/11
The Great Lakes great wolf will be taken off the endangered species list by the end of the year, Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Wednesday, a move that had been long exepcted and which conservationists say is long overdue.
There are now about 4,000 wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan - about twice as many as in the west - about two-thirds of them in northern Minnesota. Many experts say, taking wolves off the endangered species list is likely to defuse much of the emotion around their status and the law itself, which in the long run may be the best way to ensure their survival.
The government has twice announced plans to de-list wolves in the Great Lakes area, and twice they went back on the endangered species list after environmental groups filed suit -- with sufficient time for public comment a key sticking point.
It's not clear at this point whether any group will file suit.
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