Federal judge: Great Lakes wolves return to endangered list
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states.
The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the combined population is estimated at around 3,700. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states.
U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the removal was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.
Unless overturned, her decision will block the states from scheduling additional hunting and trapping seasons for the predators. All three have had at least one hunting season since protections were lifted, while Minnesota and Wisconsin also have allowed trapping.
More than 1,500 Great Lakes wolves have been killed since federal protections were removed, said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of the Humane Society of the United States, which filed a lawsuit that prompted Howell’s ruling.
“We are pleased that the court has recognized that the basis for the delisting decision was flawed, and would stop wolf recovery in its tracks,” Lovvorn said.
“The science clearly shows that wolves are recovered in the Great Lakes region, and we believe the Great Lakes states have clearly demonstrated their ability to effectively manage their wolf populations,” Shire said. “This is a significant step backward.”
Wolf advocates applauded the ruling Friday.
“We filed the lawsuit to relist the Great Lakes population of wolves,” said Jill Fritz, coordinator of Michigan’s Humane Society of the United States. “It was based on the assertion that the Great Lakes states had proven they could not responsibly manage wolves when they were delisted in January 2012.”
Jodi Habush Sinykin, an attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates, which supports science-based wildlife management, said the decision should serve as a clear signal of caution to people who would destroy the nation’s wolves.
Minnesota Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said agency attorneys will study the ruling before determining its effect on state wolf policy.
“On face value we’re very surprised. We didn’t even know it was coming to a conclusion here,” Landwehr said. “It’s an unusual turn of events.”
Lansing State Journal reporter Louise Knott Ahern contributed to this report.
Click HERE to read the court’s decision!
Posted in: Wolf Wars, endangered species act
Tags: Great Lakes Wolves Relisted, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Humane Society of America