The dual petition approach responds to the court’s concerns, provides a path to protect remnant populations while delisting and returning recovered wolf populations to state management.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, the Upper Peninsula Bear Hunters Association, and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, filed a pair of petitions under the Endangered Species Act. of Extinction (ESA) to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on gray wolves. One petition is to recognize and delist a Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (WGL DPS) of wolves within Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin (and areas of adjacent states), while the other petition asks FWS to exercise specific management options on existing remnant wolf populations. outside of the WGL DPS and the Northern Rocky Mountain Distinct Population Segment (NRM DPS) created by Congress in 2011.
“It is critical that we develop a long-term plan to bring back the science of wildlife management in wolves,” said Todd Adkins, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “Animal extremists abuse the ESA petition process to handcuff wildlife managers, but in this case, we’re using the same process to get state agencies and science back into the mix.”
In the WGL DPS petition, the coalition notes that wolf populations have far exceeded FWS recovery goals in the WGL region, with the total population now exceeding 4,000 wolves. This includes estimates of 2,700 wolves in Minnesota, 1,000 in Wisconsin, and more than 600 in Michigan. The original FWS recovery targets for the species were 1,400 for Minnesota and a combined minimum population of 100 wolves for Michigan and Wisconsin combined. In all three states, fish and wildlife managers estimate that wolves occupy nearly all suitable habitat throughout their range.
FWS has removed WGL DPS at various points in the past, but each of these removal actions has been challenged by extremist animal organizations in federal court. In these cases, courts have repeatedly ruled against delisting, not because of a concern about the wolf population within WGL, where recovery of gray wolves is well established, but because FWS failed to address them. the “remnant” wolves that exist outside of the established list. population segments such as WGL and NRM. The concern repeatedly raised by federal judges is that removal of the WGL DPS could remove protections for remnant wolves in other parts of the country.
The need for a second petition: managing the remnant wolves
Recognizing this reality, the hunting coalition filed a second wolf remnant petition to develop a path out of the litigation quagmire that has strangled effective wolf management for nearly 20 years. With the remaining wolves addressed with the second petition, the coalition is confident that FWS can move forward, once again, with a WGL DPS exclusion action that will survive judicial scrutiny.
The remaining request requests two specific actions. First, the FWS must create a West Coast Wolf DPS (WCW DPS) consisting of rapidly growing, partially recovered wolf populations west and south of the defined NRM DPS. This DPS would primarily cover non-NRM wolves in California, Oregon, and Washington.
The coalition recommends that this newly established WCW DPS be included in the threat level, which reduces this population from endangered status and provides maximum flexibility for state wildlife managers. Assigning this remaining population to a new DPS will provide FWS with much-needed flexibility going forward.
Second, our petition asks that FWS create a “non-DPS” consisting of all wolves in the lower 48 states that are not included in an established DPS. This will mean that all wolves outside of a DPS will continue to be protected by the ESA as endangered under the original 1978 list.
When taken together, the two petitions create a clear path for FWS to recognize wolf recovery where it has occurred while continuing to ensure management flexibility under the ESA for remaining wolves in the West and across the country. Granting the requests within the two tandem petitions would also align the FWS approach with federal court rulings in various cases over several years.
“While not immediately obvious, these two petitions follow a blueprint established by the federal courts on gray wolves and the ESA,” said Todd Adkins, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “Rather than a quick fix, this is a long-term strategy for wolves management to return to the state agencies they belong to rather than lock themselves into litigation brought by extremists to keep their fundraising giant. running full steam ahead 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 365.”
“Michigan’s gray wolves have exceeded recovery goals for more than two decades, and it is time to give our state’s professional wildlife managers the authority they need to make the best science-based decisions for both the animals and the animals. and for the residents who call our state home.” said Michigan Bear Hunters Association President Keith Shafer. “Michigan’s recently updated Wolf Management Plan, developed with input from all stakeholders, shows that we are ready and able to take on that responsibility today, to ensure that gray wolves are managed sustainably for generations to come as the rest of our wildlife.”
“Wisconsin Bear Hunters are steadfast in our belief that our wolf population has recovered and must be managed responsibly by our state Department of Natural Resources. These petitions ask the US Fish and Wildlife Service to do what it has done multiple times in the past: delist wolves as they have fully recovered in our state,” said Carl Schoettel. , president of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association. “Science overwhelmingly supports this movement, but unfortunately, previous attempts to delist wolves have been challenged by extremist animal groups that have never set foot in Wisconsin and are driven by a dangerous ideology, not by The science. These petitions put us on the path to righting the wrongs being perpetrated against the citizens of Wisconsin and our wildlife by these disengaged extremists.”
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and advocates for America’s wildlife conservation programs and the activities (hunting, fishing, and trapping) that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal advocacy, and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most comprehensive defense capability possible. Stay connected with the Sportsmen’s Alliance: online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Upper Peninsula Bear Hound Association is a group dedicated to bear hunting preservation, conservation, education, and the right to hunt. For more information, visit: https://www.upbearhoundsmen.com/
Founded in 1946, the Michigan Bear Hunters Association works to protect the black bear and bear game while fighting for more research, better management, fairer hunting regulations, and defeating anti-hunting measures pushed by extremist anti-hunting groups. For more information, visit: https://www.mibearhunters.org/
For more than 50 years the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of sportsmen in Wisconsin, as well as promoting youth hunting, conservation, and proper wildlife management. The WBHA is much more than a hunting organization, awarding scholarships to college-bound high school graduates, sponsoring the cleanup of highways and public lands throughout Wisconsin, and supporting a number of charitable causes through our foundation. The WBHA seeks to ensure that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors while participating in hunting, fishing, and trapping. WBHA believes that when young people enjoy the outdoors, they will be more inclined to protect it while understanding that proper wildlife management is critical to protecting our precious resources. For more information, visit: https://wbha.us.com/