2014-12-25 / Front Page

Wolves Back On Endangered List

A federal judge’s ruling that wolves are still an endangered species has halted state management of them, including hunting, in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In a 111-page decision issued Friday, December 19, Judge Beryl A. Howell overturned the delisting of wolves which allowed states to manage them, stating that their protection can best be served by the federal Endangered Species Act.

Her decision was made in a lawsuit brought by the Human Society of the United States against the Secretary of the Interior, with Wisconsin stepping in as an intervenor-defendant.

In Michigan, the federal ruling suspends public acts 290 and 318, which allowed owners of dogs and livestock to kill wolves in defense of their animals. It also suspends recreational wolf hunting as a means to control the population.

Non-lethal means of controlling wolves remain permissible, including flagging, fencing, flashing lights, and guard animals.

“The federal court decision is surprising and disappointing,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason in a press release issued Monday, December 22. “Wolves in Michigan have exceeded recovery goals for 15 years and have no business being on the endangered species list, which is designed to help fragile populations recover – not to halt the use of effective wildlife management techniques.”

He said the DNR will work with the office of the Michigan attorney general and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the ruling’s full impact on the state’s wolf management program and identify next steps.

“In the meantime,” he said, “the wildlife division will continue updating the state’s wolf management plan, which includes the use of hunting and other forms of lethal control to minimize conflict with wolves. Although the federal court’s ruling prevents the use of these management tools for the time-being, the department will be prepared for any future changes that would return wolves to state management authority.”

Jonathan Miller of Richlo Dairy Farms in Engadine, which has about 1,000 head of cattle, said working with the DNR to control wolf predation has been easy and helpful. Losing three to five animals a year to wolf predation for the past 10 years has not been an economic threat, he told The St. Ignace News, but he strives to protect his animals from any form of danger. He said he doesn’t object to having wolves around, but he needs to be able to protect his herd.

Like many farms, Richlo has received compensation for livestock losses. Payments to farmers through the DNR and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue.

Anyone having problems with wolves should contact DNR wolf program coordinator Kevin Swanson at (906) 228-6561.

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