WASHINGTON (CN) – The gray wolves of the Great Lakes region are once again under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rescinded its Bush era delisting of the wolves to comply with a settlement agreement with the Humane Society of the United States.
On July 1, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia signed a stipulated settlement agreement and order (Humane Society of the United States v. Salazar). In the settlement, Fish and Wildlife agreed to withdraw the final rule delisting the wolves and, if it published another rule, to open a minimum 60-day public comment period.
As a result of Fish and Wildlife’s action, all gray wolves in the western Great Lakes, except in Minnesota where the wolves are to be listed as threatened, are listed as endangered. This means that wolves in Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, now are listed as endangered. The reinstated regulations designate critical habitat for gray wolves in Minnesota and Michigan. The provisions of these regulations are the same as those in the regulations that were removed in Fish and Wildlife’s February 8, 2007, final delisting rule.
The battle over the status of wolves goes on in the Northern Rockies where wolf hunts have begun in Idaho even as the wolves take to their former ranges in Oregon and Washington. Cattle ranchers who view the wolves as a constant threat to livestock are the main proponents of delisting the wolves.