Photo: Michigan Tech U/AP
by Drew YoungeDyke, MUCC PR Manager
Wolf Population in Michigan has exceeded recovery goals for over a decade
Lansing – Legislation was introduced yesterday to remove federal Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Wyoming where they have long surpassed recovery goals. After Great Lakes wolves were de-listed in 2011, they were returned to the list by a federal judge based on a technicality in the rule-making process. Michigan United Conservation Clubs, supported by a member-adopted resolution, announced its support for the legislation today as wolves in Michigan have exceeded their recovery goals for over a decade, and the most recent minimum winter population counts were more than triple the 200-wolf recovery goal in Michigan.
“The fact of the matter is that wolves in the western Great Lakes states are fully recovered. They’re not endangered and they’re not threatened,” said Dan Eichinger, executive director for Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC). “Their continued presence on the Endangered Species list, under any designation, makes a mockery of the Endangered Species Act and jeopardizes its integrity to be used for truly endangered species.”
The legislation, H.R. 884, reinstates the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rules which originally de-listed wolves in the states. It was sponsored by Rep. Reid Ribble of Wisconsin and co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-1), Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-7), and Rep. Bill Huizinga (MI-2) of Michigan, among others. In December 2014, federal judge Hon. Beryl Howell ruled that the USFWS could not de-list wolves under its distinct population segment rule in part because Congress had never manifested an intent to approve the use of the distinct population segments for de-listing a species, though the rule could be used to list species. MUCC is also appealing the ruling along with several other conservation organizations who were intervenor-defendants in the original lawsuit that was filed by the Humane Society of the United States.
“This legislation supports and upholds an agency decision by USFWS and clarifies Congress’ intent to de-list species by distinct population segments, just as they did in Montana and Idaho in 2011,” said Drew YoungeDyke, public relations manager for Michigan United Conservation Clubs. “More importantly, it will restore Great Lakes wolves to state management where Michigan’s professional wildlife biologists can manage a sustaining population of wolves using sound science.”
MUCC was also part of the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management coalition which initiated the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, which was passed by the Michigan legislature in August 2014 and will take effect at the end of March 2015. The legislation allows the Natural Resources Commission to designate game species using sound science, which could include wolves if H.R. 884 passes at the federal level. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is currently updating its Wolf Management Plan.
Photo: Michigan Tech U/AP