Hungry for final wolf statusU.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Jim Oberstar have added their names to a growing list frustrated with the slow pace of action to drop federal protections for Great Lakes wolves.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Jim Oberstar have added their names to a growing list frustrated with the slow pace of action to drop federal protections for Great Lakes wolves.
The Minnesota Democrats have sent a letter asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to complete needed studies and remove the wolf from the federal endangered species list.
“We are confident that the (Endangered Species Act) has served its purpose and that the Minnesota DNR is ready and capable of ensuring the continued success of the wolf recovery and we urge you to consider the science and make your determination in a timely manner,” Klobuchar and Oberstar wrote in a letter to Rowan Gould, acting director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Earlier this year, the departments of natural resources in both Minnesota and Wisconsin formally petitioned to kick-start the effort to remove wolves from the endangered species list. Two Minnesotans also have filed their own demands that the federal agency act quickly.
Federal officials say they don’t blame them. Twice in the past four years the agency formally moved to delist wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and both times animal welfare groups filed suit. In the most recent case in 2009, a judge ruled that the federal agency had made technical mistakes in how the delisting occurred.
On Tuesday, federal regulators said they were moving toward a third delisting but did not say when it would be formally proposed.
“We are writing the new delisting now. We’re doing the taxonomy studies and the genetic research so the biology is sound and legally defensible,” said Jason Holm, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman in the Twin Cities. “We absolutely empathize and share in the frustration with the lawmakers and the states and the landowners and ranchers and pet owners. … In the Service’s view, we have a recovered population (of wolves) in the northern Great Lakes and we should be focusing our attention and limited funding on other species that really need the help.”
Wolf numbers in the region dropped to just a few hundred confined to the Superior National Forest by the 1970s when they gained federal protection. Their numbers have rebounded to about 3,200 spread across the northern half of the state, along with more than 500 each in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. That’s more than double the population goal the government set in 1978 to consider wolves “recovered” in the region.
Some Minnesota and Wisconsin deer hunters, farmers and northern residents say there are too many wolves in the state and that their numbers should be culled – either through public hunting and trapping or by increased culling near where livestock or pets have been killed.
Advocacy groups say wolves should remain federally protected because state resource managers are too eager to bow to constituency groups like hunters and farmers, and that could lead to wolves being pushed back toward extinction.