After more than four decades of federal protection of the gray wolf, the Obama Administration announced the plan to delist more than 4000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The move, which likely won’t take effect until after the first of the new year, will allow individual states to manage their own wolf populations. However, federal wildlife officials will continue to monitor the animals for at least five more years.
In a statement made to the Associated Press, assistant director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species program, Gary Frazier said, “We are ready to declare success in those areas where wolves are now secure, turn over management responsibility to the states and begin to focus our limited resources on other species that are in trouble.”
The Obama Administration announced a plan this past Wednesday to delist the gray wolf in the great lakes region.
Earlier this year wolves were delisted in several western states including Idaho and Montana. Since that time, both states have created a full management plan with hunting seasons beginning as early as this year. Idaho’s aggressive wolf plan includes a 10-month season, as officials there plan to reduce wolf numbers from the current estimation of 750 to only 150 animals.
Gray wolves once numbered in the millions on the North American continent before becoming nearly extinct by the 1930s. The current Great Lakes population stems from the last remaining surviving packs which held ground in northern Minnesota. By the 1970s there were an estimated 1,200 animals there, and once the government placed them on the endangered species list their numbers quickly bounced to as many as 3,000 – and they began to spread throughout the region.
Today, it is estimated Wisconsin holds nearly 800 wolves, Michigan nearly 700, and Minnesota as many as 3,000. Many scientists and biologists from these states believe the numbers to be far above sustainable populations.