Scientists recently sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), who, under the Endangered Species Act, listed gray wolves as an endangered species in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The list suggests wolves should be taken off the list. The addition has gone back and forth recently. Wolves had been delisted recently and successfully hunted with no negative effects. Concerns came only from animal-rights groups, which used the court system to put the gray wolves back in the grouping of endangered species even though there are more than 3,700 gray wolves in the Great Lakes area.
The new issue, however, is gray wolves are no longer endangered in the Great Lakes region, according to scientists.
In the letter sent to Sally Jewell, Secretary of the USFWS, 26 scientists attest that wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin should be considered recovered and delisted. Many of these scientists are those who originally lobbied for the wolves’ endangered status.
The letter notes that the first two steps of the USFWS’ process, “listing” and “recovery,” experience change frequently, but change for the third stage, “delisting,” has been an issue in the past. The letter points out that the USFWS and its cooperators on four occasions have had attempts to to delist or down-list gray wolves in the Great Lakes region foiled or reversed based on legal technicalities, rather than biology.
The letter brings numerous examples of why the gray wolf should be delisted, including wolf populations recovered in these states, lack of natural prey and habitat for the wolves, no scientific evidence backing wolf harvest systems in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan have or would reduce wolves’ ecological benefits in the areas where wolves have recovered, and that these funds should be spent on truly endangered species and not wasted on a species already recovered.