Hunters and trappers took 117 wolves in Wisconsin during the 2012 harvest season, 257 wolves in 2013 and 154 in 2014.
Outdoors Reporter/Lakeland Times
A federal judge in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday overturned the 2012 delisting of the gray wolf in the Great Lakes region from the endangered species list, finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not been able to overcome the strictures imposed by the Endangered Species Act.
“Wolves are the subject of heated disputes, with those on every side of the issue offering heartfelt arguments as to how best to manage this unique species,” Judge Beryl Howell wrote in her conclusion.
In 2012, Gov. Walker signed Act 169, mandating that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources create a wolf harvesting season. Wolves were originally listed as a state endangered species in 1975.
During the 2014 wolf hunting and trapping season, Wisconsin hunters and trappers killed 154 wolves.
According to the 2012-2014 Post Delisting Monitoring Annual Report on the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of the Gray Wolf issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September, the number of wolves in Wisconsin fell to an estimated 660-689 from the 2011-2012 estimate of 815-880, a decline of approximately 18 percent.
Judge Howell called the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ interpretation of the Endangered Species Act “unreasonable,” saying the structure, history and purpose of the Endangered Species Act do not permit the designation of a distinct population segment for the purpose of delisting the animals that are members of that segment. Judge Howell also said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services had redesignated the distinct population segment to a more general taxon to enable its 2012 delisting.
Judge Howell ultimately determined that the delisting of gray wolves from the endangered species list was arbitrary and capricious. The defendants were ordered to immediately reinstate protections for gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin such as they existed prior to delisting.
Ryan Matthews may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.