Wolf Hunting in Minnesota?
Nope, not yet but maybe someday now that wolves will be removed from the endangered species list!
Gray wolves being taken off federal endangered species list in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan
Great Lakes states will regain control of the species next month.
By: John Myers, Associated Press
The agency’s official notice will be filed Dec. 28 in the Federal Register and will take effect Jan. 28 when management of wolves in the region will be put back in the hands of state and tribal resource agencies.
Federal officials heralded the move as a shining example of the success of the Endangered Species Act.
“Gray wolves are thriving in the Great Lakes region, and their successful recovery is a testament to the hard work of the Service and our state and local partners,” Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. “We are confident state and tribal wildlife managers in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin will effectively manage healthy wolf populations now that federal protection is no longer needed.”
The move means more wolves can be trapped and killed in the region near where livestock have been killed. State wolf plans already in place also allow for wolves to be shot on site if seen near livestock. And the handoff to state managers allows, for the first time in decades, the option of a public hunting and trapping season on wolves that could happen as early as next year.
Wolves have been protected in the region since 1974 when only about 500 remained, all of the in the Superior National Forest. Now, more than 4,000 wolves are estimated to roam across the region, with some 3,000 in Minnesota and more than 700 each in Wisconsin and on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
That’s far more than biologists ever expected could live in the region. But Howard Goldman, Minnesota director for the Humane Society of the United States, said the move is still premature.
“Wolves have recovered in only about 5 percent of their historic range across the nation. To create some artificial boundary around where we now have wolves, and prevent them from recovering in other areas, flies in the face of the Endangered Species Act,’’ Goldman told the News Tribune.
But Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said the move is long past due.
“Wolves have been recovered in Minnesota for more than a decade. It’s time we acknowledge that and start managing them properly,’’ said Johnson. “They have really grown in number and range far beyond where they should be.”
Johnson’s group is promoting a sport hunting season on wolves as soon as possible, with a goal of as many as 750 wolves shot each year, along with continued trapping of wolves near where they have killed livestock.
It’s the third time in the past decade the feds have moved to end wolf protections in the region, but the first two failed when the move was challenged in court. This time, if lawsuits are filed again, it’s likely Congress will step in to end protections if another lawsuit delays action. That’s what happened in western states last year.
“My guess is that Congress has lost patience and that they will act if they have to,’’ Johnson said.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials scheduled an 11 a.m. briefing on the delisting announcement.
“Removing the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act list and returning wolf management to the states will help restore balance to our natural habitats, while keeping Minnesota’s livestock, pets and residents safe,” Klobuchar said. “I worked closely with Secretary Salazar to secure this much-needed delistment, and today’s announcement is great news for Minnesota ranchers and rural residents.”
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker took steps that will see “problem” wolves killed in the state starting in February as called for in the state’s own wolf management plan.
“I firmly support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to delist the wolf in the upper Great Lakes states. Wisconsin has exceeded its delisting goal eight times over and must have flexibility to manage wolf problems,” Walker said in a statement. “I have ordered the DNR to begin issuing permits for landowners who are experiencing losses caused by wolves starting on February 1.’’