The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit by several animal rights groups seeking to return gray wolves in the Great Lakes region to the Endangered Species List. If granted, Judge Beryl A. Howell will consider RMEF positions in her U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.
“It is of paramount importance that everyone recognizes that states, not the federal government, are best qualified to manage a recovered species like the wolf,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This suit, like so many previous frivolous filings, will frustrate science-based management and cause conservation damage into the future.”
Gray wolves recovered to more than 4,000 in the Great Lakes prior to delisting in January 2012.
Minnesota had an estimated population of 3,000, while Wisconsin and Michigan had about 850 and 700 respectively. The removal of wolves from federal protection happened after several years of litigation and returned responsibility for managing wolf populations to the states.
“These animal rights groups are crying wolf by claiming state management threatens to push populations to the brink of extinction,” added Allen. “There is no science that supports these claims and wolf experts like Dr. David Mech, founder of the International Wolf Center have already stated that regulated hunting by states will not negatively the states’ wolf populations.”
Allen went on to say that “In fact there is very recent credible evidence in both Idaho and Montana that regulated hunting and trapping of gray wolves is not harming the overall wolf population as both states have the autonomy to manage their wolf populations and they are using best science practices.”
In October 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals denied an attempt by environmental groups seeking to stop the state’s wolf hunting and trapping seasons stating the “petitioners failed to demonstrate the existence of irreparable harm.”
In response to the Great Lakes suit, the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Cathy Stepp, issued grave concern over the legal maneuver stating that the wolf population in her state already grew to more than eight times the delisting goals.
“Our intent is to manage the wolf, now that it has recovered, as we do other species – informed by science and in balance with social needs. Relisting the wolf under the Endangered Species Act is neither informed by science nor in balance with Wisconsin’s needs,” said Stepp. “This has the potential to halt wolf hunting in Wisconsin and leave the state powerless to effectively address livestock depredations, and would end the state’s ability to actively manage our wolf population.”
“RMEF will vigorously defend the delisting because states need to manage wolves just as they do elk, deer, bears and all other wildlife. There is no real science that disputes the fact that gray wolves are recovered and expanding, and there is no compelling reason why states cannot manage wolf populations,” said Allen.
If successful as an intervener, RMEF will join the Hunter Conservation Coalition group comprised of Safari Club International, National Rifle Association, U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, Wisconsin Bowhunters Association, Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, and the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation.
Logo courtesy Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation