USFWS Takes Steps Towards Wolf Delisting, Sets Date of April 2011
Endangered Species Act successful in revitalizing wolves in the Great Lakes, but science, not politics should now guide management as wolf numbers far exceed population goals.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) recently announced push to begin de-listing of gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes from the list of threatened and endangered species of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) starting in April, 2011.
USFWS last attempted to remove the Western Great Lakes gray wolf population from the list in 2009 in favor of approved state-run management plans after determining that the population far exceeded ESA goals. However, an animal rights lawsuit thwarted the science-based rule on a procedural technicality. USFWS officials stated they are working to address the Court's concerns and will provide a full public comment period after the April proposed rule in its quest to publish a final rule by the end of 2011.
MUCC Executive Director Erin McDonough said the organization feels cautiously optimistic that science will ultimately prevail over politics and emotion in the wolf saga. "MUCC looks forward to issuing public comment on the proposed rule in favor of Michigan's highly regarded and science-based Wolf Management Plan," said McDonough. "Surely we can expect emotionally-driven politics to try and interfere with the process yet again, but Michigan citizens should be celebrating the success of the Endangered Species Act and working toward science-based management. The Western Great Lakes population of gray wolves have succeeded beyond one-thousand percent of the Act's original population goal, so the ESA has run its course. However, wolf breeding populations continue to grow in the U.P. and are beginning to establish in the Northern Lower Peninsula, which pose a significant threat to human safety, wildlife and farmer's livestock without the ability to use lethal control where necessary."
McDonough also thanked Michigan members of Congress for continuing to push the issue of science-based wolf management to the forefront of the Agency. "MUCC has continued to advocate for sound wolf management policies along side Michigan's Members of Congress and would like to especially thank Congressman Bart Stupak and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin for their support in working with USFWS on this critical issue."
Information from the USFWS about wolves in the Midwest Region has been made available athttp://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/. Additionally, Michigan's Department of Natural Resources and Environment's Michigan Wolf Management Plan can be accessed athttp://www.michigan.gov/documents/dnr/Draft_Wolf_Management_Plan_030708_227742_7.pdf