by Chris Berens, D&DH intern
Steps being taken to remove Upper Midwest wolves from the Endangered Species Act could be tripped up if a new proposal is put into place. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to remove the Midwest’s Western Great Lakes Population Segment from the Act, but has recently proposed that there are two species of wolves in the Midwest, which could hinder states’ management abilities.
Deer hunters throughout the wolves’ range have supported USFWS and state efforts to remove wolves from the protected list because of the effect that burgeoning wolf numbers are having on deer populations. Delisting the wolves would allow each state to individually manage its wolf population in alignment with the best interests of the wolves, habitat, livestock, hunters, deer and other wildlife. The new USFWS proposal follows a Congressional rider that immediately removes Western wolves from the Act. However, it states that there are two species of wolves in the Midwest. One is the gray wolf, Canis lupus, which is now listed on the act; and the eastern wolf, Canis lycaon, which historically inhabited eastern Canada and northeastern United States, the Journal Sentinel said.
The gray wolf would be removed from the Act, while the eastern wolf would not. This could possibly handcuff management efforts according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, because there is no separate population of the eastern wolf in the state. The subspecies have mixed.
The current wolf population in Wisconsin is between 782 and 824 after the latest winter survey. The original population goal was 350 wolves, and the DNR has supported their delisting since 1998, believing that the population has fully recovered. Minnesota currently has more than 3,000 wolves, with more than 550 living in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.