The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it won’t change the status of the gray wolf in Michigan and other Great Lakes states from “endangered” to “threatened.”
Michigan wildlife officials cheered the decision, even though it denies them a measure of flexibility to manage wolves in the western Upper Peninsula.
Russ Mason of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says that’s because he’d like to see the wolf de-listed altogether.
“The service and the state share the same perspective that the wolves in the upper Great Lakes do not need any protections under the Endangered Species Act,” he says. “Our position is that the states have already demonstrated that they can responsibly manage wolves. The numbers of wolves are far beyond the federal or the state thresholds.”
Wolves were ordered back onto the endangered species list by a federal judge.
Animal rights organizations went to court to have wolves re-listed after Michigan allowed wolf hunting despite two referendums to block it.
The Humane Society proposed putting wolves on the “threatened” list in an effort to end the litigation and give wildlife officials more capacity to deal with problem wolves without opening the door to hunting and trapping of the species. Humane Society attorney Ralph Henry says it shows the state and federal agencies are unwilling to compromise.
“The Fish and Wildlife Service is engaged in efforts to de-list the wolves throughout the lower 48 United States regardless of continued threats to the species,” says Henry.
Mason says wildlife officials want to be able to turn their time, energy and other resources to other species that need protection. The federal judge’s decision to re-list the gray wolf is being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.