Hunters and advocates for sustainable wildlife management are joining together to fight a legal challenge to the delisting of wolves of the Western Great Lakes. The large collaboration is a unique endeavor for national and regional organizations who recognize wolves as recovered in the Midwestern United States and who strive to make certain that management of the predator species remains with state wildlife authorities.
The national hunter-conservationist organizations include the National Rifle Association of America (NRA), the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Safari Club International (SCI), , and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF); the regional sportsmen’s organizations include the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Upper Peninsula Bear Houndsmen Association, Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association, and the Wisconsin Bowhunters Association. Collectively these organizations speak for those who hunt wolves, deer, moose, elk, and other game species and who seek to make sure that hunting remains part of sustainable management and conservation strategies for all wildlife.
The group, collectively named “Hunter Conservation Coalition” seeks to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Born Free USA, Help Our Wolves Live, and Friends of Animals and their Environment in federal court in the District of Columbia.
Wolves in the Western Great Lakes region, which consists of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and parts of bordering states, were removed from Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection in January of 2012 after exceeding population recovery goals. If successful, the lawsuit would return wolves in the region to federal protection under the ESA, a move that would again prohibit state wildlife agencies from managing them.
Quotes from National Hunter-Conservationist Organizations:
“America’s hunting heritage is under attack from extreme organizations that seek to eliminate hunting by limiting opportunity and access for all Americans. Their efforts to oppose the removal of wolves from the Endangered Species List contradict sound science, which has determined that the wolf population is able to thrive under state wildlife management.” — Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
“Numbering more than 4,000 strong, the gray wolf is fully recovered in the Great Lakes region and it is of paramount importance that everyone recognizes that states, not the federal government, are best qualified to manage the species. This lawsuit, like so many previous frivolous filings, will frustrate science-based management and cause conservation damage into the future. There is no credible science that supports claims that state management threatens to push populations to the brink of extinction. Wolf researchers and experts like Dr. David Mech, founder of the International Wolf Center, already stated that regulated hunting by states will not negatively affect the states’ wolf populations. 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.” –David Allen, RMEF president & CEO
“Many of our organizations are seasoned participants in litigation that challenges scientifically based wildlife management. SCI and several members of our coalition have gone to court many times to defend against similar attacks by animal rights’ advocates. The anti-hunting organizations use litigation to drive their agendas, sidelining science and ignoring those who have a direct stake in the management of the species. They have attempted to undermine the delisting of Western Great Lakes wolf populations, as they have with the delisting of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming’s wolves. We hope the court sees through this feeble attempt to halt the management successes of the Western Great Lakes.” — John Whipple, President, SCI.
“Wolf populations in the Western Great Lakes region have far exceeded all recovery goals set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Despite repeatedly fighting this issue in court, anti-hunting organizations are once again attempting to manipulate the ESA through the court system to overturn the delisting. Not only does this threaten the future of scientific wildlife management and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, it flies in the face of the intent of the ESA in the first place. If allowed to intervene, USSAF and the members of the Hunter Conservation Coalition will ensure sportsmen’s voices are heard in the case.” — Bud Pidgeon, USSAF President and CEO.
Logo courtesy Safari Club International