Monday, July 6, 2009

Gray Wolves Re-Listed as Endangered

gray wolf
Gray wolf Credit: Gary Kramer / USFWS
a news release of the Michigan DNR

A recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to return the Great Lakes population of gray wolves to the federal endangered species list will result in several significant changes to the management of wolves in Michigan, the Department of Natural Resources said today.

When wolves were removed from the endangered species list in early May, the DNR gained the authority to manage wolves under the state's wolf management plan, which allows for lethal control in cases where nonlethal methods, such as noisemaking devices and barrier fencing, are not successful or viable. Additionally, two state laws, allowing livestock and pet owners to take lethal control against wolves in the act of preying upon domestic animals, went into effect.

However, the federal decision to return wolves to the endangered species list means the new lethal control laws and the state's wolf management plan are no longer valid, said Department of Natural Resources wolf program coordinator Brian Roell.

"With wolves back on the endangered species list, DNR staff can no longer authorize the use of lethal control against problem wolves, and livestock and pet owners cannot kill a wolf to stop it from preying upon their animals," Roell said. "Wolf management and monitoring will now revert to the parameters set out by the federal government."

The DNR will continue to work with the USFWS and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to manage and monitor the state's wolf population, as it has done since 1989 when the recent wolf population was first detected, Roell explained. Livestock or pet owners with a wolf depredation concern should call the DNR's RAP Line immediately at 800-292-7800 for assistance. Wolf complaints or observation can be filed by calling your local DNR office.

The federal decision to return wolves to the endangered species list was made in response to a lawsuit filed in June by the Humane Society of the United States and several other animal rights groups against the U.S. Dept. of Interior and the USFWS, asking that the original decision to delist wolves in April be reversed.

The lawsuit pointed out that the federal government had not taken public comment on the Great Lakes wolf delisting, and the USFWS responded by choosing to voluntarily relist the Great Lakes wolf population.

"As biologists who study the science behind wolf management, we are disappointed with the change in status," Roell said. "With nearly 580 wolves in the state, Michigan's wolf population is fully recovered and we hope the topic of delisting will be revisited again in the near future."

See Wolves in Michigan
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