Wisconsin wolves won't be removed from protected species list April 12, 2005 9:51 AM
Wisconsin wolves won't
be removed from protected species list
By Robert Imrie
WAUSAU, Wis. - The process of
removing Wisconsin's growing
population of gray wolves from federal
protection is on hold and it's raising fears about a public backlash against
the animals, the coordinator of the state's wolf management program said
The wolf is again considered an endangered species in
Wisconsin because of a federal judge's ruling in Oregon restricting the
state's efforts to manage the population, said Adrian Wydeven of the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
All talk of having a
possible hunting season for them is now off, he said.
designation was changed to a threatened species in April 2003, meaning
federal agents could kill problem wolves in Wisconsin rather than trap and
relocate them to prevent them from preying on livestock and other domestic
animals. There was hope the wolf would be completely removed from the
federal species list by
this summer, giving the DNR total say on how to
manage them, including possibly creating a hunting season to control
Even though the wolf is back on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted the DNR a permit last week to
kill up to 34 problem wolves this year under some circumstances, Wydeven
"Things are kind of up in limbo right now and we may, for a few
years, have to just go by year-to-year permits from the Fish and
Wildlife Service to get special authority until we are delisted," he
U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones in Portland, Ore., ruled in
February that the Bush administration violated the Endangered Species
Act when it relaxed protections on many of the nation's gray
Jones ruled the government acted improperly by combining
areas where wolves were doing well, such as Montana, with places where their
numbers had not recovered.
The judge also found the Fish and Wildlife
Service did not consider certain factors listed in the Endangered Species
Act in evaluating the wolf's status, including threats from disease,
predators or other natural or manmade dangers.
The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service has not decided whether to appeal Jones' decision and is
awaiting the outcome of another related lawsuit in Vermont, Wydeven
Wydeven estimates Wisconsin's wolf population at about 400 - some
50 more than the DNR's goal.
The wolf is a native species that was
wiped out in Wisconsin by the late 1950s after decades of bounty hunting.
Since the animal was granted protection as an endangered species during the
mid-1970s, wolves migrated into the state from Minnesota and their numbers
been growing ever since.
Minnesota has the largest wolf
population in the lower 48 states at around 2,400.
Wydeven said there
had been hope that the wolf could be completely delisted in Wisconsin by
2000. Now it looks like that goal could still be years away, he
It is creating frustration, antagonism toward the wolves and
possibly even some backlash as public support for the animals is being
jeopardized, Wydeven said.
"They are big predators and they do
occasionally kill domestic animals," he said. "If we keep the population at
or slightly below the current levels, we can kind of minimize that. But if
the population continues to increase and expand, the domestic killing is
likely to increase, creating more animosity and backlash."
[ send green star]