The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have filed appeals in a recent court decision by a federal court to refuse to delist the gray wolf in the state as an endangered species following a lawsuit from an anti-hunting group.
“Protection of Michigan wolves under the Federal Endangered Species Act is no longer warranted,” reads DNR’s updated wolf plan, “Regardless of changes in legal status … wolves in Michigan have surpassed State and Federal population recovery goals for 15 years.”
Wolf numbers in the state have skyrocketed up from just six in 1973 when protection efforts began.
In the 83-page plan released earlier this month, the state contends that the more than 600 wolves known to exist in the Upper Pen are nearing “toward the maximum level the UP can sustain.” Once that happens, it is likely the population will decline due to starvation. The specter of hungry wolves seeking out local livestock has would be cattle farmers running gun shy. DNR’s proposal?
“[A] carefully regulated program that allowed livestock producers to control depredating wolves would be generally acceptable to the public and it would address a major concern of livestock producers,” reads the report.
However, a U.S. District Court Judge last December shot down the proposed revision of the wolf’s status by USFWS and DNR as violating the Endangered Species Act of 1973. In all some 3,700 wolves belong in a population spread across Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
The case was brought by the Humane Society of the United States, a group characterized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation as a radical anti-hunting organization with millions socked away in offshore banks and a serious dislike of traditional shooting sports and game harvest methods.
“We are overjoyed,” said Jill Fritz, Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States at the time of the group’s victory. “We’re grateful the court recognized that the basis for delisting wolves was flawed. For now, the wolves have won.”
In a statement released by DNR along with the news of the filing last week to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C, DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason said, “Wolves in Michigan and the other western Great Lakes states are fully recovered from endangered species status, which is a great success story. Continuing to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a recovered species not only undermines the integrity of the Act, it leaves farmers and others with no immediate recourse when their animals are being attacked and killed by wolves.”
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, a number of sportsmen groups are also supporting the appeal to include the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, and the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association.
Besides the HSUS, the United Tribes of Michigan comprising 12 recognized Indian tribes in the northern part of the state have filed a resolution opposing the removal of federal protections for the wolves.