WASHINGTON (CN) – Just weeks after the U.S. Congress’ unprecedented move to strip gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protection in five states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to delist the Minnesota population of gray wolves.
The agency also proposes to rescind critical habitat for the wolves in all or parts of 29 eastern states because it now says that the territory was not part of the wolves’ historical range.
If the proposed change is adopted, the management of the wolves would revert to each state. In Minnesota, this would mean that anyone could harass a wolf that came within 500 yards of another person, a building, livestock or a domestic pet, and kill any wolf posing an immediate threat to their animals.
The state will ensure a minimum population of 1,600 wolves, according to its management plan. If the population falls below that number, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will readjust its management policies.
As with any delisting decision, including the one ordered by Congress, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will continue to monitor the delisted population for five years to determine that delisting does not threaten the long term survival of the species.
The proposed changes in critical habitat are based on new genetic information indicating that there are three species of gray wolves in the continental U.S.: Canis lupus, Canis lycaon and Canis rufus.
The agency now will begin a full status review of all subpopulations of the three recognized species not covered by the recent delisting decisions.