The Big Story Blog

Need-to-read stories on wolf de-listing

Posted at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Environment

MPR News has kept close tabs on the gray wolf and its possible removal from the list of federally protected endangered species. With the removal official today, here's a look at some of the most recent stories.

June 14: Grand Rapids audience shows support for wolf delisting

At a meeting in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, support was strong for removing endangered species protections for wolves in Minnesota.

Nearly 200 people attended the meeting, which was organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to learn more about the latest plan to delist wolves.

For the third time, the federal government is trying to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the Endangered Species List. The last two times, conservation groups challenged the idea in court, and won.

July 7: Federal funds run dry for predatory wolf control program

A federally funded program that controls predatory wolves in northern Minnesota will soon be out of money, putting livestock and pets at risk.

When farmers can prove a wolf killed their animals, they call Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Trappers come out to the farm, set traps, and kill the wolves they catch.

The money for the trapping program -- about $500,000 a year -- has long come from Congressional earmarks. But last spring, Congress voted to eliminate earmarks. As a result, in mid-July, the state will no longer have money to hire the trappers.

Sept. 13: Feds try again to 'delist' wolves in MN, WI, MI

The federal government is reopening a comment period for its plan to take the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.

The comment period is reopening not so much because of the status of the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan -- but because in its plan to de-list, announced in May, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to define the eastern wolf as a separate species from the gray wolf.

The agency says the eastern wolf's historic range covers parts of 12 northeast and mid-Atlantic states, and it is reviewing the status of the eastern wolf to determine whether it should be placed on the Endangered Species List.

The two types of wolves cannot be distinguished without DNA tests, and wildlife managers say it will be difficult to protect one as endangered while dropping protections for the other.

Sept. 14: Fourth try underway to remove gray wolf protections

After three failed attempts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is again considering whether to remove the gray wolf from federal protection in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Spurred by petitions from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and others, the federal agency has opened a public comment period and is expected to issue a recommendation in six months.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded a 90-day review of petitions to remove the region's wolves from protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Lora Ragan, a Minnesota-based biologist for the agency, said the requests made a strong case.

"We think there is substantial information provided to indicate that delisting may be warranted here in the western Great Lakes," Ragan said.

Today: Feds to drop Great Lakes wolf listing

The Obama administration is taking gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region off the federal endangered species list.

This is the third time the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to remove federal protections from the gray wolf.

Environmental groups say they will study the rationale closely before deciding whether to try again to stop the de-listing in court.

Minnesota's wolf population has stabilized at close to 3,000 animals. The state's wolf plan, in place since 2001, has set a minimum population of sixteen-hundred wolves to ensure long-term surviva


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.