The U.S. Department of Interior announced today that the western Great Lakes wolf population as well as most of the northern Rocky Mountain wolves will be removed from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection.
The western Great Lakes region includes Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan as well as parts of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota and South Dakota. The close to 4,000 gray wolves of the western Great Lakes were originally removed from the endangered list in March 2007 until protections were restored in the fall of 2008 after a Federal judge found that the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) might have made a procedural error during the delisting process.
As for the northern Rocky Mountain population, wolves were delisted in Montana and Idaho but Wyoming wolves will remain protected by the federal government. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials determined that Wyoming’s wolf management plan, which allows wolves to be shot on sight in much of the state, would not adequately protect wolves.
The rule that removes wolves from federal protection and hands all wolf management duties back to the states will take effect in 30 days. Environmental groups have already pledged to challenge this latest wolf delisting attempt and they could be joined by Wyoming ranchers and the state of Wyoming itself!