Attorneys for the Sportsmen’s Alliance, the federal government and state of Michigan presented oral arguments on Oct. 18, moving the groups’ efforts to repeal the re-listing of wolves in the Great Lakes region. The court will next evaluate the legal merits from both sides before making a ruling. The ruling could come as early as the end of the year.

The wolves were delisted in December 2011 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), restoring management oversight to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. However, the Humane Society of the United State (HSUS), unhappy with the decision, sued in hopes of returning wolves to the Endangered Species Act.

Though evidence has been shown of wolves thriving in the Great Lakes region, a Washington D.C.-based U.S. District Court Judge ruled the wolves could not be delisted until the apex predators were deemed recovered throughout their entire historic range.

“Under the lower court’s ruling, it doesn’t matter that wolf numbers in the Great Lakes states are two or three times higher than the recovery goals adopted by the federal government in the 1990s. The ruling by the lower court means that until wolves are found in Chicago, Seattle and New York, wolves cannot be managed appropriately by state wildlife experts in the Great Lakes states,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “The ruling makes absolutely no sense, is legally and factually incorrect, and spells disaster for the future of the Endangered Species Act, wildlife and our entire ecosystem, which is why we’re appealing it.”

Joining the Sportsmen’s Alliance in the appeal of the lower court’s decision are Safari Club International, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, National Rifle Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association and the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation.