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Great Lakes gray wolves remain protected.. for now

The Wasp Factory

Great Lakes gray wolves in Michigan’s upper peninsula will remain protected after a decision Tuesday by the  D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold their endangered status.

The decision keeps gray wolves from being hunted in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Wayne Pacelle is the president of the Humane Society of the United States and lead plaintiff on the case. He said while wolf populations are bouncing back, they still need protections.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a number of attempts to de-list wolves. In almost every case the federal courts have stopped that effort because they felt the Fish and Wildlife Service did not have sufficient evidence,  it had inadequate analysis of the consequences for delisting wolves.”

Kevin Swanson is with the Michigan DNR. He said the state should be allowed to regulate wolf populations.

“We’ve surpassed Federal and State recover goals for decades now here in Michigan and other Great Lakes states. We have a robust viable population of wolves. Wolf populations have gone upwards very pronounced since the early 90’s. We currently have a population

But Pacelle said the case is one of several that has upheld gray wolves’ endangered status because it didn’t provide enough information on wolf populations across the region.

“And in every case the courts have sided with groups like the Humane Society of the United States and said that the U.S. Fish and WIldlife analysis, the size of its assessment, it’s science was not sufficient enough to warrant delisting.”

Regardless of the appeals case, the endangered listing may still be overturned. A bill currently in the U.S. would  remove gray wolves from the endangered list with no judicial review. The measure has been voted out of committee and is awaiting action on the Senate floor.

Swanson said he supports the bill.

“We’re hopeful that this might come to fruition. That’s senate bill 1514. That’s another avenue, a congressional avenue, that we are in support of.”

But Pacelle said this proposal would subvert the entire point of the Endangered Species listing.

“To have congress decide which species survive and which species don’t is wrong.”

Pacelle pointed out that a majority of Michigan voters rejected wolf hunting in two state ballot measures back in 2014

And, he said, there is no good reason to open wolves to sport hunting.

The DNR is an underwriter of WCMU Media.