Feds say gray wolves recovered in western Great Lakes region
Federal officials said Friday they would try again to remove Endangered Species Act protections from gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region, where they are thriving after being threatened with extinction decades ago.
Courts have overruled several attempts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to drop wolves from the endangered list, siding with environmentalists whose lawsuits contended the predator’s status remains shaky even though about 4,200 wander forests and fields of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Agency officials said their new proposal addresses concerns raised by federal judges and should survive legal challenges. They will take public comment for 60 days before making a final decision.
“Wolves in the western Great Lakes have achieved recovery,” said Rowan Gould, acting director of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Its action came one day after Congress voted to strip wolves of federal protection in five Northern Rockies states: Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah — the first time lawmakers have exempted a particular species from coverage under the 1974 law. In both regions, officials report a rising tide of frustration as packs attack livestock, hunting dogs and big game while their endangered status prohibits even wildlife managers from killing them.
If removed from the federal list, wolves would be overseen by state natural resources agencies. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin have plans meant to keep the populations at healthy levels while allowing government agents to kill animals that can’t be driven away.
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