Gray Wolf Back on Threatened Species List

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Minnesotans no longer are allowed to take wolves to protect livestock and pets, now that a federal judge has accepted a settlement reversing a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) decision to remove the gray wolf from the threatened species list.

The gray wolf, commonly referred to as the timber wolf, was removed from the federal government's threatened and endangered species list on May 4. At that time management of the wolf population passed to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR managed wolves under a state wolf management plan, which went through a lengthy public input process to ensure the long-term survival of wolves in Minnesota while resolving conflicts between wolves and humans.

"The settlement suspends implementation of the Minnesota wolf management plan by the DNR and puts management of gray wolves back under the authority of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," said Dan Stark, DNR wolf specialist. "Although taking wolves to protect livestock and pets was allowed under state management, only authorized government agents are now able to take wolves that kill or injure livestock and pets."

USFWS officials agreed to the settlement, which stipulates that the public will have additional opportunity to comment on the rule removing wolves from the threatened species list.

Stark said any suspected livestock depredation or illegal killing of wolves should be referred to a local Minnesota conservation officer. Conservation officers have the authority to verify livestock depredation claims. They will refer control of wolves causing damage to the appropriate federal agency responsible for wolf depredation control in Minnesota.

A population survey during winter 2007-08 showed that an estimated 2,921 gray wolves live in Minnesota, which surpasses the federal delisting goal of 1251-1400 wolves. Minnesota's wolf population has remained stable during the past 10 years, giving the state one of the highest wolf densities anywhere.