As it turns out, I guess they meant "political science....."
Given that, it came as no surprise that it was formally announced on Oct. 29 that wolves will be removed from the Endangered Species List. The final rule will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, meaning that the ruling would take effect on Jan. 4, 2021. Jurisdiction for wolf management will now return to each state, similar to management of deer, bears and most resident species. In the short term, this ruling mostly impacts Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota as wolves in those Great Lakes states are federally protected under the ESA. In the long term, this ruling means there will be no federal protections for gray wolves in any state.
Of course, legal challenges are expected to be filed in response to this delisting. In fact, the first challenges were filed Nov. 5, 2020. More information on those can be found here.
So what would it look like if wolves did not have those federal protections? Will there be hunting seasons on wolves across the lower 48 states? What’s next for wolves?
Those are important questions we hope to answer here as well as through regular updates on our website at wolf.org and through our various social media platforms.
Gray wolves have had an on-again, off-again relationship with the Endangered Species Act since they were first listed as endangered by the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1967 and legally protected in 1974 by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. There’s no question the Act helped wolf populations in the lower 48 states. Populations rebounded naturally in some places and with reintroduction efforts in Yellowstone National Park and Idaho.
The gray wolf population in Minnesota appeared to stabilize and that population helped grow the number of wolves in northern Wisconsin. That population then spread into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the early 1980s, meanwhile, wolves that had dispersed from Canada were crossing over the border into northwest Montana. That population was bolstered by the Yellowstone reintroduction in 1995 and 1996.
As their numbers grew and met the biological criteria of the USFWS wolf recovery plans, efforts began to remove wolves from the Endangered Species Act. Congress delisted wolves in Montana, Idaho and parts of Utah, Washington and Oregon in 2011. In other parts of the country, such as the Midwest, wolves have been on and off the list and were federally protected until this recent decision by the USFWS. The estimated 10,000 wolves in Alaska are not and never were protected by the Endangered Species Act.
The latest ruling means that no states have federal protections in place for gray wolves, including those where wolves do not currently live. If wolves were to repopulate Utah, for example, they would not be federally protected. This doesn’t mean they won’t have any protections at all however. Wolves in California, for instance, are protected by state laws, having been granted protection by the state’s ESA in 2014.
Going forward, each state will determine the level of protection wolves receive and how they are managed.
Why did this happen?
In its original proposal to remove the wolf from federal protection, the USFWS wrote: “We propose this action because the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the currently listed entities do not meet the definitions of a threatened species or endangered species under the Act due to recovery.”
State management plans in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota have long included state-prescribed minimum populations. Those minimum population figures were surpassed, according to state estimates, many years ago.
In Minnesota, for example, the minimum population of 1,600 was reached many years ago. The Wisconsin target of 350 and the Michigan target of 200 have also been eclipsed.
Minnesota hosts an estimated 2,600 wolves. Wisconsin estimates a minimum of 1,000 and Michigan nearly 700. The USFWS wolf recovery plan only required at least 100 wolves between Michigan and Wisconsin combined, and 1,250 in Minnesota for at least five consecutive years.
Estimates, though, are just that. Many wolf supporters think the population estimates are overcounting wolves. Wolf detractors, meanwhile, believe that the wolf populations are underestimated. (To watch a webinar on how the MN wolf population is estimated, follow this link: bit.ly/mnwolfcount).
What was the process for delisting?
The USFWS says that the ultimate goal of the Endangered Species Act is to “recover species so they no longer need [federal] protection. Recovery plans describe the steps needed to restore a species to ecological health.”
Wolf Recovery Plans were written by biologists with federal, state, local agencies and tribes.
The Department of the Interior issued a press release about the ruling, which reads, in part:
“The United States Fish and Wildlife Service based its final determination solely on the best scientific and commercial data available, a thorough analysis of threats and how they have been alleviated and the ongoing commitment and proven track record of states and tribes to continue managing for healthy wolf populations once delisted. This analysis includes the latest information about the wolf’s current and historical distribution in the contiguous United States.
“‘After more than 45 years as a listed species, the gray wolf has exceeded all conservation goals for recovery,’ said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. ‘Today’s announcement simply reflects the determination that this species is neither a threatened nor endangered species based on the specific factors Congress has laid out in the law.'”
To read the full press release, click here.
To learn more about the ESA process, click here.
What happens next?
States with wolves have management plans for them, and some states are updating them.
In Minnesota, for example, a group of residents representing farmers, trappers, hunters, environmentalists and the general public have been meeting to discuss significant updates to the state’s plan, which was last updated in 2001.
The last time these three states managed their own wolf populations was 2012, 2013 and 2014, when the wolf was delisted for a few years. During that time, regulated public wolf hunts were held in Minnesota (2012-14), Wisconsin (2012-14) and Michigan (2013 only).
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service will monitor wolf populations for five years to “ensure the continued success of the species,” according to the press release they issued on Oct. 29.
Want to learn more?
To see the proposed rule to remove the gray wolf from the Endangered Species Act, follow this link.
To read more about the work being done to update Minnesota’s wolf management plan, follow this link. This work will be especially important as Minnesota has the largest population of gray wolves in the lower 48 states.
To learn more about the history of the gray wolf’s status on the Endangered Species Act, click here.
To view a detailed timeline on the history of the gray wolf in the contiguous United States, click here.
This ruling does not pertain to Mexican wolves or red wolves.
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Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Oregon Wild, and the Humane Society of the United States.
The usual actors.
Secondly, and I could be way off base on this, the feds shouldn’t be allowed to say how individual states manage wildlife. If the reasoning is federal land, doesn’t the state still “own” the wildlife?
If a State says “we’re going to shoot wolves” then any lawsuit should just be thrown out.
By the way, many states already have state listed endangered species. But the federal ESA supersedes the state law as per the Constitution.
We are living in an insane world.
It had everything thing to do with biological science of Canis lupus. You are like a misinformation beehive except you make arrogance instead of honey.
When elk are repatriated into states where they once existed, like Missouri, is that small population declared "endangered" until they reach certain recovery goals? No. Why not?
If the Plan had been followed, wolves would have been delisted years and years ago. But the meddling of rabid environmental groups and liberal judges resulted in the recovery "goal posts" being moved over and over. There was no actual science that supported those decisions.... unless you count political science.
The ESA was originally a noble and important conservation tool. Any more it is utilized primarily as a political block to development, common sense, human harvest of wildlife and ironically, conservation itself. It needs a huge overhaul... or to be tossed out completely.
The “endangered” classification has nothing to do with reintroducing programs for big game. To further your example the eastern elk reintroduction programs are NOT using the same subspecies. The “eastern elk” (Cervus canadensis canadensis) is extirpated (gone) and the eastern reintroduction programs today are using are Rocky Mountain elk subspecies (Cervus canadensis nelsoni). Where is your outrage of that? It is the exact same situation with the gray wolf except elk are not endangered. Why are you not against the elk reintroduction programs in the east while the are “dumping” this different elk subspecies in the east? They are doing the eastern reintroduction programs with the same species (Cervus canadensis)...the North American elk.
Seriously, you are just pushing misinformation like most of your posts. Your subspecies argument doesn’t hold water and your example of eastern elk reintroduction shows your hypocrisy. Plain and simple.
If anything, the wolf introduction into Yellowstone has taught me the environmentalists are not about science or good faith. There was a pre-agreed upon threshold for delsting, and the environmentalists have pushed to move those goal posts ever since the initial threshold was approached. It is about an agenda, and it appears they will say or do whatever they please in order to affect their desired outcome.
Uhhhh, nothing that I posted is untrue, or as you liberals like to call facts with which you disagree, "misinformation ". McKenzie Valley Canis lupus are NOT endangered. Never have been. That is a simple scientific fact. They are a different subspecies. That is scientific fact.
I used the elk reintroduction as an example of the hypocrisy of the ESA application. An animal overpopulated in one place does not suddenly become "endangered" because a few are dumped out of a truck into a different location. That's politics at work, not science.
Why are not outraged at states dumping the Rocky Mountain elk subspecies in the eastern U.S.? Why haven’t you started a thread about that and push your subspecies argument?
Please tell me the exact scientific name of the gray wolf species that was listed on the ESA?
Please stop with the AOC "misinformation" accusations. It makes you seem small. You know everything I posted is true, and you're just trying to spin it. Do you not understand my point about the elk vs. wolves? Neither should be listed as "endangered". But by your logic, western elk transplanted to the east should be ESA listed until they reach recovery goals, just as the Canadian wolves were after being trucked down here.
It is absolutely positively NOT common practice to list subspecies on the ESA. Less than 25% of wildlife are listed under subspecies. Over 75% are listed by species like Canis lupus. Subspecies are listed for many reasons like genetic variation for disease resistance and interbreeding like the Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). This is just more misinformation from you. Just look up all scientific names of listed species and see how many are listed by subspecies.
I’ll stop calling out your misinformation when you stop posting it.
Relocation and reintroduction of game species happens all the time. Just because they are reintroduced does not mean the species is endangered. Your elk example actually is evidence against your point. Most of the game reintroductions (like the eastern elk) are not because the species is on the brink of extinction. It’s because the state wildlife agencies are trying to re-establish a hunt-able population of a native SPECIES (not subspecies). It’s not to save the species.
Why don’t you just say it instead of pushing information. You simply do not want wolves in Colorado regardless of subspecies. Honestly, if USFWS found a previously unknown population of the Northern Rocky Mountain Gray Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus) you would be just fine with the reintroducing them to CO?
Let's stick to facts. The original wolves in Colorado were the youngii subspecies, which was documented to be much smaller than the Canadian wolves. More like coyotes in size. I would be ok with them because they were native, but not crazy about it since Colorado has 6 million people, projected to grow to 10 million soon, and USFWS biologists already determined that the habitat in CO was too fragmented for wolf forcing. That's why they weren't pushed into RMNP to control the elk.
How about this: mammoths and mastodons once roamed Colorado. Why not just truck in some elephants, call them mastodons, afford them ESA protections, and call it "restoring a native species"? Wouldn't that be cool?
Based on my admittedly layman's research, I disagree that the introduced wolves are nearly identical in size, shape and behavior as the subspecies that were extirpated here. I also can't see how they can balance justifying the effort and millions spent on the Mexican Wolf (smallest subspecies) as well as keeping it separated from the rest of the Canis Lupus rules and then place the largest subspecies next door. The wolves from the last introduction have traveled a lot farther than the short trip from Colorado to the Mexican Wolf range. Common sense tells me that eventually leads to the disappearance of the lobo subspecies.
Because they are the same SPECIES! They are Canis lupus and Canis lupus is what is listed on the ESA. The ESA protects native species from becoming extinct or extirpated within the border of the U.S.
“How about this: mammoths and mastodons once roamed Colorado. Why not just truck in some elephants, call them mastodons, afford them ESA protections, and call it "restoring a native species"? Wouldn't that be cool?“
Cause they are not the same SPECIES! Good grief Lou.
“ The original wolves in Colorado were the youngii subspecies, which was documented to be much smaller than the Canadian wolves. More like coyotes in size.”
Gray wolf ( McKenzie subspecies; Canis lupus occidentalis)- weight ~85-180lbs.
Gray wolf (Northern Rocky Mountain subspecies; Canis lupus irremotus)- weight- ~70-150lbs
Gray wolf (Southern Rocky Mountain subspecies; Canis lupus youngi)- weight ~65-150lbs
Coyote (Canis latrans)- weight ~20-50lbs.
WRONG and not factual or even close. Again more misinformation. What planet do you live on the think that wolves that historically inhabited the Rockies are similar size to a coyote. Seriously? Their size doesn’t even overlap.
Lou- I don’t know how else to say this but you are full of it.
Glunt- your post is refreshing and you have your opinion. It’s debatable but refreshing.
Mulepower- I’m here because I’ve been a bowhunter all my life. And I didn’t compare wolves to elk. That was Jaquomo/Lou who brought it up. Read the whole thread and take it up with him.
This is from the Smithsonian, comparing skull size of a mature Canadian wolf with a mature youngii.
I would insult you by saying you are full of shit, but I'm better than that. You are too.
AVERAGE BODY MASS: males- 110 lbs (50 kg); females-90 lbs (41 kg)
HEAVIEST KNOWN WOLF IN YNP: 148 lbs (wolf 760M of Yellowstone Delta pack with no food in stomach).
Seems like the Gray wolves from Canada reintroduction physiologically adapted quickly to their southern environment. Funny that their size lines up pretty well with Canis lupus youngi. Hmmmm...kind of blows up your argument Lou.
Interesting information on the Yellowstone wolves in the link.
By the way, is it a forgone conclusion that Canada gray wolves would be used for the CO reintroduction (if it happens)? I’ll almost bet they will use Yellowstone wolves or wolves from Idaho or Montana.
You’re right Lou. The insult was uncalled for and unnecessary. Apologies.
Colorado biologists have expressed concern about the occidentalis threatening the much smaller Mexican wolves when their territories eventually overlap. But I guess since they are all the same species, that shouldn't matter.
The difference between the Manitoba/ Ontario wolves and the Mn. wolves, the wolves in Canada gets hunted and fear humans not in Mn., Wi. or the UP of Mi., had them within 5 yrds just starring before ambling on, at least yotes will dede mao when getting a whiff of humans.
And there’s still plenty of evidence to suggest that their new estimates are a fraction of reality.
So to anyone in Colorado... Don’t believe a word that they say. The science doesn’t matter. Math doesn’t matter. Semantics, definitions, agreements and management plans don’t matter.
Do whatever you can to stave these people off. Organize. Raise money. Lobby. Utilize their tactics. Generate emotional appeals.
But don’t let them in your house. Look at them and their pitch the same way you do the email from the Nigerian Prince wanting to deposit money in your bank account.
Or, perhaps a better analogy... Ask the guys in Wisconsin...
When they promise to only put the tip in, you’re going to get fully screwed.
The challenged delisting rule, which becomes effective Jan. 4, will permit trophy hunting and trapping of wolves again in the Great Lakes states. Delisting will slow or completely halt recovery of wolves in most of their former range. The new rule excludes Mexican gray wolves, which are listed separately under the Endangered Species Act.
“The Trump administration shut the door to wolf recovery, even as the science shows that wolves are too imperiled and ecologically important to abandon,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re taking the fight to the courts, and I’m confident we can restore the Endangered Species Act’s lifesaving protections for gray wolves across the nation.”
“The decision to remove critical protections for still-recovering gray wolves is dangerously short-sighted, especially in the face of an extinction and biodiversity crisis,” said Bonnie Rice, senior representative for Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign. “We should be putting more effort into coexistence with wolves and reinstating endangered species protections critical for their full recovery.”
Thursday’s notice letter states removal of the gray wolf’s federal protection is unlawful because the species has not recovered in the Pacific Northwest, the southern Rockies and elsewhere that scientists identify as “significant” habitat for the wolf.
The notice letter also asserts that the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision contradicts the most current science regarding wolf conservation and taxonomy and ignores concerns raised in peer reviews by the nation’s top wolf scientists.
“It’s perverse to declare wolves fully recovered when they exist in only a fraction of their historic range,” Adkins said. “I’m hopeful that the court will set things right, but in the meantime hundreds of wolves will die, and it will take years to undo the damage done. It’s heartbreaking and senseless.”
Six conservation groups represented by Earthjustice – the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, Oregon Wildlife, National Parks Conservation Association and the Humane Society of the United States – sent the notice letter.
The Endangered Species Act requires that the coalition now wait 60 days before filing its lawsuit with the court.
These people need to redirect their time and resources to higher cause. Wolfs are continually expanding on their own. Help the Christians in muslim countries and china. And help the poor & young in Africa. There are some worthwhile causes , not weeping about a few wolfs.
If you all really want an argument that helps you and is hypocritical of the ESA...what about the American bison? Why isn’t the USFWS reintroducing them all over Kansas and the Great Plains? Why isn’t it on the ESA? Same for the prairie dog. No good response.
With gray wolves, some want to talk about the subspecies like they are separate species. They are not. No getting around that. Mexican wolves are an ESA listed subspecies...true. They are listed that way to protect genetic variation in the species and because they are managed differently and have different recovery goals.