Minnesota Wolves Back on Federal Endangered List

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Minnesota's wolves have returned to the federal threatened species list following a federal judge's ruling Monday that rescinded a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2007 decision to delist the western Great Lakes population of gray wolves.

The gray wolf, commonly referred to as the timber wolf, was removed from the threatened species list in March 2007 and management of the wolf population became a state responsibility. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) managed wolves under the terms of a federally approved state wolf management plan.

The judge's Sept. 29 ruling places wolves back under federal protection and management.

"As a result of this ruling, Minnesotans need to know there is no legal way for an individual to kill a wolf except in the defense of human life," said Dan Stark, DNR wolf management specialist. "Taking wolves to protect domestic animals may only be done by agents of the government."

"This was a technical legal decision that focused on federal rule-making procedures and will require the federal government to revisit its processes," Stark said. "The ruling had nothing to do with the status of Minnesota's wolf population or the adequacy of state management."

A survey last winter showed that an estimated 2,921 gray wolves live in Minnesota, which continues to rank second only to Alaska in wolf population among U. S. states. Minnesota's wolf population surpasses the federal delisting goal of 1,251-1,400 wolves. The state has one of the highest wolf densities recorded anywhere, indicating that Minnesota's wolf population is fully recovered, according to the DNR.

All wolf damage complaints should be reported to a local conservation officer, who will make appropriate contact with federal authorities. Only an authorized agent of the government is authorized to take wolves that cause damage.