Published: Wed, August 02, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Great Lakes States Wolves Retain Endangered Species Protections

Great Lakes States Wolves Retain Endangered Species Protections

On Tuesday a US federal appeals court retained federal protection for in the western Great Lakes region, ruling that the government acted prematurely when it dropped them from the endangered species list.

The court upheld a district judge who overruled the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had determined that wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin had recovered after being shot, trapped and poisoned almost out of existence in the previous century.

The gray wolf population in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin now totals about 3,800.

The service announced in 2011 that wolves in the region would be stripped of their endangered status and managed on the state level.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that Fish and Wildlife Service regulators "failed in their analysis" when they chose to remove protections for the gray wolf in nine states, including Wisconsin.

In 1980 the DNR counted just 25 wolves in the state.

Federal appellate judges have upheld a lower court decision that maintains federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The groups argued the agency's decision threatened "the fragile remnants of the gray wolf population by confining current wolf populations to small pockets of their former range". But because of factors such as hunting and habitat loss, the wolf's range has been greatly reduced, and it is now most commonly found in the more northern regions of Canada and the United States, as well as northern Russian Federation and China. That action came after gray wolves made a remarkable comeback in Wyoming, and across the West.

The Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment. They soon spread across much of the Norther Rocky Mountains. Johnson adds that the bill's language does not modify the Endangered Species Act, nor does it prevent Fish and Wildlife Service experts from ever returning the wolf to "endangered status' if they determine the population is in need of federal protection".

Until then, however, wolves will remain federally protected and off-limits to hunting or trapping in the four states.

The court held that the Service had put on "blinders" when it removed protections for wolves because the agency ignored what negative impacts this would have on recovery of wolves in other areas, such as New England and the Dakotas. The court's ruling requires that the USFWS re-engage stakeholders in a regulatory process that gives full effect to the purposes of the Endangered Species Act and addresses wolf recovery in a robust and depoliticized process. "We have known all along that wolf hunting recklessly endangers this valuable asset". A year and a half later a federal judge returned them to federal protection. "The court noted that "...when a species is already listed, the Service can not review a single segment with blinders on, ignoring the continuing [imperilment] status of the species' remnant".

"The court handed down this opinion despite an abundance of scientific and commercial data showing no material threat to the wolf population".

"Wolves and grizzlies are symbols of America's wild places", Noah Greenwald, the center's endangered species program director, said in the statement.

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