It was announced this week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will publish a final rule removing gray wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin from the list of endangered and threatened species. This policy change will take effect thirty days after the rule is published in the Federal Register and that is expected to occur next week. This issue marks one more wildlife conservation success story funded, at least in part, by America’s hunters.
For more than ten years, wolf populations in these three states have exceeded recovery goals originally set by the FWS. This is why the Service has attempted to delist the wolf in this region on two previous occasions, only to be thwarted by radical environmental and anti-hunting groups that filed suit in federal court. It proves once again that, when it serves their emotional agenda, these groups would rather have activist federal judges “manage” wildlife populations rather than professional biologists.
It is expected that these groups will once again file suit in order to stop this long-overdue delisting. As has been the case through the years, the NRA will team with other true conservation organizations in order to aid in the legal battle to help ensure science trumps emotion.
Once the wolf delisting takes effect, management authority will shift from the federal government to the states. As has been the case with the science-based wildlife management decisions associated with wolves in the Rocky Mountains, regulated hunting in these three states must be utilized to return wolf numbers to within appropriate management goals intended to bring balance between predator and prey populations. This essential policy will, for instance, provide some hope to rapidly declining moose populations in Minnesota.
State policy makers should stand ready to act sooner rather than later in order to establish wolf hunting seasons. Any further delay is simply unacceptable. The NRA will keep you apprised of developments and members should be prepared to contact their public officials to advocate for a science-based wildlife management strategy that incorporates regulated hunting. Rest assured that our opponents will do all they can to stand in the way, regardless of the cost to the region’s wildlife.