August 2, 2017
RMEF: Silver Linings in Great Lakes Wolf Ruling
MISSOULA, Mont.—Unlike its decision earlier in 2017 upholding efforts to delist wolves in Wyoming, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia chose not to do the same in the Western Great Lakes states.
“We are disappointed with this latest ruling, but the court wholeheartedly rejected a number of claims by environmental groups regarding wolves and wolf management,” said David Allen, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “The court undid a number of roadblocks thus providing a path forward.”
Positive points from the decision:
- Rejected an environmental group argument that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) did not use the best available science
- The Endangered Species Act allows the FWS to delist a distinct wolf population segment
- Supported FWS’s reliance on state management of wolves and other wildlife in the Western Great Lakes States
- Upheld the FWS’s determination that disease and human mortality do not pose a significant threat to the wolf population
- There is no permanent barrier to delisting wolves
“This latest ruling came six years after the FWS tried for a third time to delist wolves in the Great Lakes. We call on Congress to approve and pass a legislative fix to halt this non-stop litigation that frustrates successful wildlife management,” said Allen. “These environmental groups continue to use the wolf as a fundraising tool while overlooking and ignoring each state’s approved wildlife management plans.”
As of 2015-16, there is an estimated minimum population of 3,762 wolves in the Great Lakes states. Minnesota’s wolf population is approximately one and a half times above objective. Michigan’s wolf population is more than 200 percent above its state plan and Wisconsin’s wolf population is more than 250 percent above objective.
RMEF recognizes that predators have a proper place on the landscape but that they need to be managed just as elk, deer and other wildlife are managed in accordance with the North American Wildlife Conservation Model.